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A big women’s bantamweight contest is coming to the first Ultimate Fighting Championship card of 2021.
Sara McMann (12-5) first posted to her Instagram on Wednesday that she would be taking on Julianna Pena (9-4) at the UFC card on Jan. 16. Pena posted news of the matchup shortly thereafter on her own Instagram. The matchup was once considered for the Dec. 19 Fight Night event, per a matchmaking video posted by the UFC, but it has since been moved to the new year for undisclosed reasons.
McMann ended a two-fight submission loss skid to Ketlen Vieira and Marion Reneau by earning a decision win over Lina Lansberg in January. McMann was on the shelf for nearly two years from 2018 to 2020 after having a child, and then suffering an injury to eject her from a bout with Nicco Montano. Pena replaced her in that matchup.
“The Venezuelan Vixen” has alternated wins and losses in her last four, scoring unanimous verdicts over Cat Zingano and Montano while getting submitted by Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie. Both Pena and McMann made their UFC debuts in 2013, but Pena has only competed seven times across those seven years. Throughout her career, Pena maintains equal methods of victory, with one-third of her wins coming due to strikes, another third from submission and the final third on the scorecards. Of note, each of Pena’s last three wins have come by decision.
The UFC event on Jan. 16 is the first of the year from a major promotion, and it will be capped off by a featherweight thriller between Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar. It is unclear whether the event will take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas or on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Featured high on the main card is a welterweight battle between Santiago Ponzinibbio and Muslim Salikhov.
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