Amanda Nunes a heavy favorite on home turf against returning Raquel Pennington in UFC 224

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil's Amanda Nunes will defend her UFC bantamweight title for the third time on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) as a heavy favorite on home turf against American fighter Raquel Pennington, who hasn't fought since November 2016 because of injuries.

Both fighters made weight on Friday (Saturday, Manila time) for the 135-pound title fight at Jeunesse Arena, a fight that had to be rescheduled from December when Pennington broke her left leg in an ATV crash.

Brazilian fighters will fight Americans up and down the rest of the card. Kelvin Gastelum takes on a crowd favorite, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, whose nickname means "the Alligator." Unbeaten Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Mackenzie Dern will also fight American Amanda Cooper in the strawweight division.

Dern, who made her UFC debut only two months ago, weighed in seven pounds above the limit, but was cleared to fight anyway.

Local fans are also excited about a matchup of two famed Brazilians. Former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida will face former champion Vitor Belfort, who is likely to have his last fight in his hometown.

John Lineker and Brian Kelleher will have a bantamweight bout.

Kelleher's agent Brian Butler-Au told journalists on Friday he and 20 others were robbed at gunpoint a beach kiosk in front of the hotel where fighters are staying. Rio is going through a security crisis that led to a federal intervention, spreading military personnel throughout the city.

 

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