Is Amanda Nunes The Greatest Fighter In MMA History?
By James Lee
It is no secret that the debate to categorise the greatest mixed martial arts fighter is comprehensive and widely-scrutinised.
Usually, just four names are bandied around for the coveted decoration. Jon Jones, Demetrious Johnson, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre.
Despite that, Amanda Nunes deserves to be in the conversation and Saturday manifests another showcase opportunity for her legacy.
All, including Nunes, have their blemishes, but it could be said that ‘The Lioness’ is one with the fewest.
Demetrious Johnson suffers because he reigned in what could be described as a relatively weak division. Most of those he beat are not household names in the sport and him leaving the sport’s premier promotion after a loss does not bode well.
Unfortunately, for as long as he stays in One Championship, he can never claim to be the best because the competition is not as high as in North America.
Many situate both Anderson Silva and Jon Jones in the same realm considering they both dominated in an impressive sense for a prolonged period, but various doping violations have cast a shadow over their achievements.
Undoubtedly both are incredible fighters, but it is hard to dismiss those indiscretions.
Recently though, it would seem that Georges St-Pierre has become the leading choice amongst the fanbase, as Jones and Silva have been tainted.
One thing that separates him from most in contention is the fact he avenged both of his losses on his record in devastating fashion, meaning he retired from the sport without a loss he hasn’t gotten back and therefore proving he was undeniably better than anybody he fought.
However, one name that seemingly evades the list is Amanda Nunes. But there is a serious case to name her as the greatest mixed martial arts fighter in history, regardless of weight or gender.
Crucially, she has become so dominant that her title defence this weekend is almost a formality, much like her other defences of the bantamweight or featherweight throne. She currently stands as a 1/7 favourite, with her opponent Felicia Spencer a 9/2 underdog.
Other fighters like Jones, Silva and GSP could never say that was the case for them during their respective reigns. All faced severe adversity as champions, but Nunes has had little trouble yet, even dominantly beating legendary fighters.
It should be noted that the ability to finish fights at the highest level counts for a lot, which again bodes well in her favour.
Her victory against Cris Cyborg was specifically legacy-defining and unattainable in most people’s minds at that point.
However, Nunes dispatched of her Brazilian counterpart in less than a minute and in overwhelming fashion, it should be added, to become the first-ever female two-division UFC champion.
The Ronda Rousey victory was similar as she made who was once such a dominant champion look like she didn’t even belong in the same promotion as her.
Similarly, her wins over former champions Holly Holm and Miesha Tate came within less than a round.
Other notable wins also include Germaine de Randamie twice, Raquel Pennington and former Bellator champion Julia Budd. However, arguably her most significant triumph has come against Valentina Shevchenko.
The current flyweight champion has established herself as the most dominant champion in the UFC, being that no contender is close to being able to match her. However, Nunes beat her on two occasions and nullified her offence drastically.
Ultimately, the wider question surrounding Nunes’ status is difficult. She is unquestionably the greatest female fighter in history. However, the real debate is whether she should be considered amongst the greatest of all.
In my opinion, undoubtedly.
To go further, she is certainly in the top three female athletes of all time and should be recognised amongst Serena Williams, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Simone Biles as having legendary status.
With that, her recognition amongst the sporting community should be ten-fold the amount it is now. As Ronda Rousey proceeded to push the barrier further and achieve mainstream recognition, it is difficult to see why Nunes has not yet.
But with time, it seems unavoidable.
As she is amongst current fighters like Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov vying for the throne, her status as the greatest mixed martial arts fighter in history will be prolonged providing she continues her career with complete dominance.