The Rise of Amanda Nunes
By Claudia Peterson
As we get ready to close out the year with UFC 232, I find myself in high anticipation for what will be the best female MMA fight thus far in the history of women’s MMA.
Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes will seek to become the first female fighter to hold titles in two weight divisions simultaneously. Before I talk about Amanda’s impressive resume, let’s take a look at the history of this fight.
Prior to arriving in the UFC, the Lioness fought at featherweight, so fighting at 145 again is not new territory for her. An eventual clash between the Lioness and Cyborg was talked about seven years ago, before women were allowed to fight in the UFC. In July of 2011, Amanda made quick work of Julia Budd back in Strikeforce, handing the now Bellator featherweight champ an unforgettable 14 second knockout. In her post fight interview, Mauro Ranallo asked Amanda if being in line to face Cris Cyborg for the 145 pound strap was an obvious step forward for recently arrived Amanda.
Fast forward to 2018, and Amanda Nunes has quietly risen to the top ranks of female MMA fighters, and has faced some very tough competition along the way. She will go into her fight with Cyborg with the most wins (9) in the history of female UFC fighters (tied with Jessica Andrade), as she surpasses Ronda Rousey in this milestone. She has not lost in 4 years, and has only gone to decision three times in her 10 year and 18 fight career.
Her last two losses came at the hands of Alexis Davis and Cat Zingano by TKO via ground and pound. She has been perfect since, and has learned from those losses, albeit by taking advantage of her own power and ability to finish fights early in the contest. She also holds impressive wins over four former and current champions in Julia Budd, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Germaine De Randamie. This is a heck of a resume to come into this challenge with, and she has enough momentum to go into it will full confidence.
So then, what do we make of Amanda Nunes? Is she up to the task of defeating Cristiane Justino Cyborg? There is certainly a lot more at stake now than there was back in 2011. The Lioness is not as technical or even as mature a fighter as Cris Cyborg is, but certainly has what it takes to put the baddest woman on the planet down. But can she? Amanda’s chin has not been tested in a way that would allow us to say for sure whether she can weather the Cyborg storm.
Also, by now, Nunes understands that her cardio is still somewhat of an issue and I hope to see that rectified for her encounter with Cyborg. She tried to convince us in her second fight with Valentina Shevchenko by proving that she could go five rounds, although the result was a slim split decision win in a fight fought in fear and obvious attempt to conserve her cardio. The Lioness has not been hit as hard as she will be hit by Cyborg, and that will be her ultimate test. If Amanda wants to win this fight, she will have to take the fight to the ground, as Cyborg is sure to figure out Amanda’s timing early enough.
Either way, I believe Cyborg may be more than ready to rise to the occasion and have the ability to grapple with Amanda, as Amanda’s strength is not something Cyborg will be in much fear of.
Whichever way the fight shakes out, Amanda still has a home in the bantamweight division, where her reign will certainly surpass that of Ronda Rousey’s.