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Amanda Nunes at UFC 224Getty Images

UFC 224: Amanda Nunes stops Raquel Pennington to defend title in Rio

But there was controversy as the challenger was sent out to fight the fifth and final round, despite trying to quit moments before

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Simon Head
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UFC women's bantamweight champion Amanda 'The Lioness' Nunes continued her reign with a fifth-round stoppage of American Raquel Pennington on Saturday night.

Nunes's victory was her third successive title defence, and her seventh-straight victory, as she underlined her status as one of the most dominant forces in women's MMA.

The bout made history as the first world title fight between two openly gay fighters in UFC history. And the two combatants battled it out for five rounds before Nunes eventually claimed the TKO stoppage in front of a home crowd in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

But the finish to the main event at UFC 224 left a sour taste, as Pennington was sent out to continue in the fifth and final round after clearly trying to quit on her stool at the end of the fourth round.

"I'm done," she told her team, who nonetheless talked her into going out for the final round. She was then taken down and finished mid-way through the final round by the dominant world champion.

Many took to Twitter to express their disbelief.

After the bout, an emotional Nunes admitted that the challenge of fighting Pennington, a longtime friend, was an extremely difficult one.

(The below video contains hard-hitting footage from the octagon.) 

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"I've never fought anybody as a friend. This is the first time ever,” she said.

"I respect those girls so much. It was the hardest fight in my career."

"We are friends. We're gonna leave this cage (and) we're gonna have a beer and celebrate our friendship. Tonight was my belt, but the first thing was the respect and the friendship we have."

Gastelum stakes title claim

The 13-fight card in Rio produced a feast of finishes, with only two of the night's bouts going to the scorecards.

One of those decisions came in the night's co-main event, as Kelvin Gastelum squeezed past Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza after a highly competitive three rounds.

Gastelum effectively nullified Jacare's elite-level submission game by stuffing 10 of the Brazilian's 11 takedown attempts en route to a split-decision victory.

After taking the win with scores of 29-28, 28-29, 29-28, Gastelum thanked the Brazilian crowd in their native tongue before staking his claim for the next shot at the undisputed middleweight world title.

“Hopefully I’m in line next for that title,” he said.

“If not, I'm ready for anybody. But I feel like the winner of this fight should fight the winner of Yoel (Romero) and Robert (Whittaker) later on this year, preferably in Madison Square (Garden).”

Machida serves up Knockout of the Year contender

One of Lyoto Machida's most memorable moments came back in 2011 when he spectacularly knocked out UFC legend Randy Couture with a Karate Kid-style front kick at UFC 129.

And 'The Dragon' repeated the feat in stunning style as he knocked out fellow former light-heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort at UFC 224.

The knockout came at the 60-second mark in the second round, and afterwards, Machida paid tribute to his opponent.

"I have a lot of respect for Vitor Belfort, he's done a lot for this sport," he said.

"I was looking for the right moment. All I need is one strike to end the fight."

And Machida ended his night by calling out Britain's former UFC middleweight champion.

"Michael Bisping. I'm still waiting for you, man! I want to do this fight. If you're not retired, you've gotta fight me first!"

And with the Rio crowd chanting his name, fellow UFC legend Belfort officially announced his retirement from the UFC as he laid his gloves down inside the octagon and left the cage for the final time.

Jiu jitsu ace Dern claims submission win

Despite missing weight by a whopping seven pounds on Friday, rising star Mackenzie Dern claimed an emotional first-round submission victory over Amanda Cooper in their catchweight contest.

Dern badly rocked Cooper with a huge punch, then finished the fight with a rear-naked choke.

Half-Brazilian, half-American Dern's win was particularly sweet as she was able to showcase her elite-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills in front of her father, 30-year BJJ legend Wellington 'Megaton' Dias.

"Thank you, Brazil for receiving me here. I've always wanted to fight here in Brazil. My dad is here in the crowd. This victory is for you, dad!" she said.

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