mma / Columns

Amanda Nunes: When a Lioness Becomes a GOAT

January 1, 2019 | Posted by Evan Zivin
Amanda Nunes UFC

If the UFC’s 2019 starts the way its 2018 ended, it’s going to be a pretty dominant year for the greatest female fighter to ever step inside a cage.


Before I get into that, though, I should note that, while I’m sure the majority of the conversation coming out of last Saturday’s UFC 232 will be focused on what Jon Jones did (outside The Octagon as well as inside), I figure I’d wait to give my two cents.

Y’know, to allow time for those last drug test results to come in…

Have a good time in front of the Nevada Athletic Commission, Jon! Hopefully you don’t screw over as many fans on this trip to Vegas as you did your last trip!

I gotta say, for a longtime fan of MMA, UFC 232 was a bit of a bummer. BJ Penn lost. Andrei Arlovski lost. Carlos Condit lost. Cat Zingano lost not just the fight but half her eyelid.

Ilir Latifi lost. THE SLEDGEHAMMER LOST. Man, what a night…

At least their defeats provided a glimpse of what could be to come in the sport. Alexander Volkanovski looked great dispatching Chad Mendes, as did Ryan Hall. Michael Chiesa gave reason to think he might go far as a welterweight, and Meghan Anderson forced the UFC’s hand in that they’ll probably need to find at least one more fight for the featherweight.

Also, Corey Anderson defeated Ilir Latifi. THE SLEDEGHAMMER LOST. The sky is the limit for Mr. “Beastin’ 25/8” right now.

But, as far as who’s riding the highest wave coming out of the Payperview from The T-Mobile Arena The Forum in Inglewood, it has to be the woman who can now legitimately claim to be the greatest women’s MMA fighter of all time.

I wonder if that means UFC will actually attempt to promote Amanda Nunes now…

It’s ridiculous thinking about everything the now UFC Women’s Bantamweight and Featherweight Champion has done since entering the UFC 5 years ago.

In that time, she’s defeated three current or former UFC champions, 2 future UFC champions, 2 Olympic medalists, and 2 WWE champions.

Seriously, if Becky Lynch is looking for a real fight at Wrestlemania, she knows who she should be headlining against…

And what’s made Nunes’ journey so enjoyable to follow is the fact that she wasn’t handed anything. She didn’t come into the UFC riding a reputation gained elsewhere. She was just another fighter trying to prove she belonged. She’s worked hard to get where she’s at, taking a loss to Zingano at UFC 178 and coming back to go on the most destructive tear through the most established of the women’s divisions.

Amanda hasn’t been given the promotional support that some lesser fighters have received and look what she’s done in spite of it, putting away Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey, and now Cris Cyborg, all with strikes in the first round.

Amanda Nunes has literally knocked out the previous generation of female fighters. And she made it look easy.

While there were plenty of people who thought Nunes would do violent things to the current Raw Women’s Champion when they clashed two years ago (if anyone asks me why I can’t take Ronda seriously in WWE, Amanda is the reason), there was virtually no one who thought she could do the same thing to Cyborg, the mythical figure who’s held the mantle of being the most dangerous woman in the sport since she took out Gina Carano, star of The Mandalorian, a decade ago.

Hell, I can’t remember what day it is but I can still remember Jan Finney holding onto Cyborg’s leg while getting battered in Strikeforce, with the referee unsure as to whether they had agreed to officiate an athletic competition or a snuff film.

Despite showing a more reserved style in her last couple outings, especially once the UFC finally signed her, Cyborg was still the fighter who struck fear in the hearts of anyone who dared to stand across the cage from her.

And Nunes, after being the one to throw down the gauntlet and make the challenge to Cyborg, stood across the cage from her and showed no fear. She then proceeded to knock her out in 51 seconds.

That’s right. The woman who was seemingly on a collision course with Ronda Rousey for the longest time only lasted three seconds longer than Ronnie did against Nunes.

That’s pretty crazy. I don’t see how anyone could look at Nunes, the woman who took out the two women who came the closest to calling themselves the greatest or the baddest or whatever your hyperbole of choice is, and think of her as anything less than that.

It’s even crazier when you consider that, by knocking out Cyborg, Nunes didn’t just defeat the most dominant fighter in female MMA, she also singlehandedly destroyed the UFC Womens Featherweight division, since UFC only ever created it and propped it up as a way to cash in on Cyborg’s popularity.

That’s why, for as definitive as the win was, and for all that Dana White has said about not being interested in a rematch, you know the option is very much on the table, especially since there aren’t many options for the next defense of the 135 belt.

Well, unless they want Amanda to fight Germaine de Randamie, who we know never runs from a fight…

If Joanna Jędrzejczyk was given a second chance against Rose Namajunas after she got finished in the first round and was in no way deserving of an immediate rematch, I see no reason why Cyborg shouldn’t get one.

Besides, I thought it was company policy these days to always award drug cheats…

…I figure I needed to show some love to the sector of the fanbase who have never respected Cyborg because she failed a drug test that one time in Strikeforce. How you guys doin’? How’s the family?

Actually, now that I mention Joanna, she could be a good fight for Amanda.

I mean, she’s already lost title fights at 115 and 125. Why not keep going up and try for the 135 title? She can be like the female Kenny Florian. Kenny can even corner her, since I think he needs something to do now that there aren’t any more Fox Sports pre and post fight shows to work.

He can either do that or he can kickstart his writing career again, as there are plenty of great journalists out there he can steal from. Or random bloggers. I work for cheap.

Seriously, though, Curt Menefee must be devastated.

As with the last time UFC went through the exercise of crowning a simultaneous two division world champion, or “Champ Champ,” there’s a lot of paths that lay ahead for Nunes. It’s too soon to say what her next move will be but one would expect she’ll make it with the same humility and respect she has always displayed throughout her career.

For as controversial as the first Champ Champ was and for all the criticism the second Champ Champ was (and is still) dogged with over his legitimacy, there’s nothing to deny or critique when it comes to what Amanda Nunes has accomplished. She’s simply the best. Let’s just hope UFC starts treating her as such.

And if they don’t? Then let’s hope One Championship starts promoting female bantamweights soon.

Appreciate her greatness now before the story breaks of UFC shipping her off to Southeast Asia so they can get back Brandon Vera, that stud. Your next “Champ Champ,” everybody…

Evan Zivin has been writing for 411 MMA since May of 2013. Evan loves the sport, and likes to takes a lighthearted look at the world of MMA in his writing…usually.

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Amanda Nunes, UFC 232, Evan Zivin