Amanda Nunes: The Backstory
She is already the UFC women’s bantamweight champion. She is on a five-fight winning streak that includes some of the biggest names in the history of the sport. She has told us what she wants next…but is Amanda Nunes looking too far ahead and is she the best female mixed martial artist on the planet?
Amanda Nunes sits atop the UFC women’s bantamweight division after having captured the belt from Miesha Tate at UFC 200 and then destroying Ronda Rousey in 48 seconds.
Following this demolition job of the former Queen of women’s MMA, ‘The Lioness’ was quick to let the world know what she wanted next.
“I want to move up. I want the winner of the featherweight title fight. We’ll see. Two belts. I want to make history. It never happened before in the UFC, no woman did this before. I want to be the first one like I was the first Brazilian like I was first gay and the first woman to have two belts, I will be.”
She has also said “Because I’ve cleaned out this division. When I got the belt, I’ve beaten the best. After the next fight, for sure, we’ll do something else. Go up, maybe go down. We’ll see.”
Firstly ‘The Lioness’ needs to take care of business on July 8 where she will face off against challenger Valentina Shevchenko, a woman she first faced in the Octagon at UFC 196 in March 2016.
On that occasion, the Brazilian won a unanimous three-round decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27) having dominated the early part of the fight, particularly the second round where two of the judges awarded her a 10-8. However, it was Shevchenko’s late resurgence in the second and a dominant third round, where she battered Nunes on the feet, that have fight fans excited to see these two run it back.
After that loss, Shevchenko rebounded quickly, impressively defeating former champion Holly Holm and top contender Julianna Pena to set up the much-anticipated rematch.
Two main differences exist when they take to the cage this time around. Shevchenko will get her chance for revenge over five, five-minute rounds, not three and more importantly the bantamweight title will be her reward, if successful.
A telling moment in the build-up occurred at the UFC Summer Kickoff press conference last month in Dallas where things heated up. The two fighters traded barbs back and forth on stage before the tension finally hit boiling point as they faced off. After engaging in an extreme stare down, Nunes pushed the challenger with her fist resulting in them being separated before things got more physical.
Nunes later explained to reporters backstage that Shevchenko had touched her and that the shove was a reaction. She also made it quite clear what she thought of her opponent, “She touched me first. She’s not supposed to touch me at all. I don’t respect her at all.”
As for her part in the altercation, the challenger said, “She’s afraid. She’s scared of this fight and that’s why she’s acting like the crazy one and how I tell before, she feels that she holds this title belt two months more and this is it. That’s why she’s acting like she did.”
Whatever your take on the incident, whether it be a case of either fighter trying to get in the others head or just their way of trying to hype the fight, I think we can all agree it certainly should have refocused Nunes on the task at hand instead of what the future may hold in other divisions.
If, and I express again ‘if’ Nunes continues her tear through the bantamweight division and gets by Shevchenko a second time she will certainly have her work cut out for her when she goes up or down in weight in an attempt to emulate Conor MacGregor as a two-weight champion.
Going up to 145 pounds she potentially faces the winner of Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino and Megan Anderson, who face off in late July for the featherweight title, vacated by inaugural winner Germaine de Randamie.
Even before that fight had been announced Nunes had already stated that she would be interested in facing fellow Brazilian ‘Cyborg’ but only if she became champ.
Many feel Cyborg is the best featherweight in the world as it is hard to argue as the knockout artist has steamrolled her recent competition, finishing her last seven fights via KO or TKO.
Nunes realizes she would have to change up her day to day training regime to challenge at 145 saying, “I’d have to do a lot of things to fight Cyborg. Cyborg is way heavier, way bigger than me. I’d have to change all my training style to fight Cyborg. This is another thing I’d have to go over with my coaches.”
Things don’t seem to be any easier for Nunes if she goes down in weight as she would mostly likely face current women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who has also expressed interest in going after a second belt herself in the recently announced 125-pound flyweight division.
Joanna ‘Champion’ Jedrzejczyk has, in my opinion, been the most dominant female fighter in the organization’s history and after looking at her record it is hard to argue. Her latest performance saw her improved to 14-0 defeating Jessica Andrade by unanimous decision at UFC 212, in the process tying Rousey with a sixth consecutive title defense.
What makes this potential super-fight even more enticing is that Nunes and Jedrzejczyk both train at the American Top Team in Florida.
Nunes was nonchalant when asked her opinion on JJ being regarded as the top woman in the sport, “Whatever people want to say they can say. If she’s the best now, it doesn’t matter. I keep moving forward in my career.”
Despite that very diplomatic answer ‘The Lioness’ has stated that if the two do not meet in the Octagon that she's 100% confident, her girlfriend, Nina Ansaroff, can beat the strawweight champ.
When asked herself Ansaroff made it clear she's not intimidated by Joanna's impressive undefeated record and believes it's just a matter of time before she makes her presence felt at 115 pounds and fights for the title, stating matter-a-factly, "I can beat her."
Ansaroff, who is currently ranked outside the top 15 will need to climb the ladder and put together a significant winning streak before she gets a chance to back up her talk.
To find out more about Amanda herself, what she thinks of her upcoming rematch, the chase for two belts, sharing a gym with Joanna and Nina or being the pride of the LGBTQ community, subscribe to the UFC Channel on PADLOKT.com today.
Jimmy. R. Nugent