Dana White announces backup fighter for UFC 289 title fight

There will indeed be a backup fighter for the upcoming bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Irene Aldana at UFC 289 next month.

By: Kristen King | 1 month ago
Dana White announces backup fighter for UFC 289 title fight
Amanda Nunes, who returns at UFC 289, after UFC 277 | IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

UFC president Dana White has announced the backup fighter for Amanda Nunes vs. Irene Aldana. Originally set to fight Julianna Peña for a third (and potentially) final time, Nunes has a new opponent for her next defense: the aforementioned Aldana at UFC 289, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for June 10 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 

This past Tuesday, White announced that Peña was forced to withdraw against Nunes after suffering a rib injury. The ‘Venezuelan Vixen’ said she was ‘gutted’ to withdraw and hoped to face the winner of Nunes vs. Aldana in her return to the Octagon. 

Dana White announces backup for Nunes vs. Aldana at UFC 289

With Aldana filling in for Peña, her fight against Raquel Pennington, which was recently scheduled for an upcoming UFC Fight Night on May 20 at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, was canceled. However, the promotion has decided to have ‘Rocky’ on standby should anything happen to Nunes or Aldana ahead of their fight. 

During an interview with The Schmo, UFC president Dana White said Pennington was the backup fighter.

“First of all, I love the Irene Aldana fight,” said White. “For us to be able to move so quickly and get another fight in there, press conference [this past Friday], and she’ll be here. Raquel Pennington will be the backup on that card. So she’ll train, cut and make weight, and if anything happens to either [Nunes or Alanda], she’ll step in.”

In her most recent appearance, Rocky defeated Ketlen Vieira via split decision at UFC Vegas 67 this past January. Now on a five-fight win streak, the Ultimate Fighter veteran said she wanted another shot at Nunes, who she lost to via fifth-round TKO in 2018 for the UFC bantamweight championship. 

“I don’t feel like I should be denied anymore,” said Pennington at her UFC Vegas 67 post-fight press conference (video provided by MMA Junkie). “A five-fight win streak, how much more are people going to keep denying me? I feel like the respect needs to be put on my name at this point. Obviously I don’t have control of it, I would love to fight for the world title before the year’s over. If that doesn’t happen, then my ultimate goal is to be the No. 1 in the world and then start 2024 right. But, I’m ready to go.”

Amanda Nunes and Irene Aldana face-off ahead of UFC 289

Nunes and Aldana came face-to-face for the first time during a pre-fight press conference this past Friday. For the ‘Lioness,’ Aldana was exactly who she wanted for her next defense, so she was thrilled with the new challenge. 

“This is the original opponent right here,” said Nunes. “Me and the UFC was going back and forth and we discussed Aldana. Something changed, and they came with Julianna. So now we are here, with a real opponent. I’m very happy about it. Less heavy as well and I’m excited.

“After what I did to Julianna in the last fight, there was no question [I should have fought Aldana next],” continued Nunes. “Now she’s here. I’m very happy for her and now we’re going to see each other soon.”

As for Aldana, she was excited to get the championship opportunity she thought she had earned after back-to-back finishes in her past two appearances. 

“I’m fighting the greatest of all time,” said Aldana. “I respect Amanda a lot. I’m grateful for the opportunity and we’re ready. I think she said it all.”

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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