14/05/2018 by Rich Plunkett
Saturday night’s UFC 224 took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in front of ten thousand fans and watched by millions on Pay Per View worldwide. In the main event, Brazilian Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes put her title on the line against tough nut Raquel “Rocky” Pennington, for the women’s Bantamweight Championship of the world.
Pennington came in to the fight as a massive underdog, having not competed for a year and a half, and up against a formidable opponent in Nunes. She held on until the last round, with a suspected broken nose, before referee Marc Goddard put her out of her misery and awarded the fight to Nunes, via TKO. In what was a one sided event, Nunes again proved to be head and shoulders above the rest of the division, fighting at 135 pounds.
Veteran voice of the Octagon, Bruce Buffer, described Nunes as being “like Chuck Liddell with female genitalia”, but not in so many words. I believe she is still not receiving the recognition she deserves. In this post Conor McGregor era that we live in, is it harder now for fighters to build hype without being as brash as “The Notorious” is. Surely not, given how much the UFC has tried to push the likes of Francis Ngannou and Yoel Romero, who speak English as a second or third language. We all watched, like a deer in the headlights and curled up at the cringiness of Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko’s pre fight trash talk back when the two of them were trying to sell tickets to their fight at UFC 215. That aside, Nunes is one the most exciting fighters to watch and her record speaks for itself.
She finds herself now on a seven fight win streak, including three successful title defences. She has notable victories over Shevchenko (twice), Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, basically a who’s who of women’s MMA, fighting at 135 pounds. Shevchenko has lost to only one other fighter (from a cut she received during the fight) in her career spanning 18 fights. Rousey, the undisputed queen of the UFC, was made to look like nothing more than a punching bag, when Nunes took her soul in 48 seconds. Tate was the champ and on her first title defense when Nunes took her back and her belt, in July 2016.
Shevchenko has now moved down to the Flyweight division, Rousey has signed with the WWE, where her head movement will never be tested, and Tate has since retired. To say that Nunes has cleared out the division is an understatement.
Many believe the only woman on earth capable of beating Nunes is fellow Brazilian and UFC champ, Cris “Cyborg” Justino. Cyborg is the undisputed champion at 145 pounds in the UFC Women’s Featherweight division. A super-fight between the two has already been talked about, but nothing has come to fruition yet. It is a fight the fans want to see and makes a lot of sense, given that the Featherweight division is pretty thin and the challengers for Cyborg aren’t exactly knocking down Dana White’s front door, on account of how scary she really is. If Nunes were to take the fight and beat Cyborg, she would be the first woman to do so since Cyborg’s debut, back in 2005. Adding Rousey, Shevchenko, Tate, former Featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie and others to the list of women she has beaten, in my opinion you have the most successful woman in certainly the UFC’s history, if not the whole of MMA’s. This is a recognition I think she thoroughly deserves, as she is a true star of the sport.