As 2018 comes to a close, the final UFC PPV lingers on the edge of the calendar year. Many storylines lay on the other side of December. One being a new broadcast deal takes hold. A deal that could change the landscape of the UFC due to the sheer magnitude. Yet, UFC 232 still stands in the way of a new era for the company.
The year ending card features two important title fights. Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson compete for the vacant light heavyweight title in the headlining bout while in the co-feature, Amanda Nunes battles Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino for the featherweight title. The stakes for both are at a fever pitch, more so in the co-main event.
Greatest of All Time
Amanda Nunes and Cris ‘Cyborg’ each have a meaningful claim to greatest female fighter of all time. Nunes is on one of the greatest runs a female fighter has ever had. The Brazilian is in the midst of seven consecutive victories. Expand a bit further, she is 9 of her last 10. With the only loss coming to Cat Zingano. Over the course of this impressive streak, Nunes dispatched Germaine de Randamie via TKO to elbows in the first round, Sara McMann by 1st round submission, Miesha Tate by a similar fate, and Ronda Rousey by KO. She also beat the current UFC women’s flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko, twice as well as demolished Raquel Pennington for five rounds before earning a TKO victory.
The credentials of Amanda Nunes speak for themselves. Yet, on the other side is another extraordinarily dominant champion. Cris ‘Cyborg’ reigns undefeated in 20 straight bouts. After losing her debut, her incredible stretch of dominance began. She famously defeated Gina Carano without giving her opponent a moment of effectiveness. The bout was the largest women’s MMA fight at the time.
‘Cyborg’ also holds impressive names on the win column of her MMA record. Besides her massive showdown with Carano, she defeated Marloes Coenen twice, Daria Ibragimova, and Holy Holm. Not only did she defeat them, ‘Cyborg’ dominated them. Of her 20 wins, 17 came by stoppage, including 10 inside the first round.
UFC 232: The Biggest fight in Women’s MMA History
This fight is highly important, for a number of factors. Cyborg vs. Nunes is the biggest fight in women’s MMA history. Other bouts may have had more fan-fare and anticipation attached but none had the stakes that the UFC 232 co-main event delivers. Such a fight has the opportunity to elevate the women’s divisions. Champion vs. Champion, all-time great vs. all-time great. Both Nunes and ‘Cyborg’ felt a similar way. The two women’s fighters know the optics of their co-main event bout and are excited to a part of such a momentous time in the sport.
Amanda Nunes claimed:
“this fight is going to be the key to put the women’s MMA at the top. Nobody ever see that before. This is the first time and we have to be apart of this… This is a big thing. It’s not about me, it’s not about Cris (Cyborg), it’s about Women’s MMA to grow every time we step in the cage. And this is the big thing right now. I am happy to be the one to face Cris and we’re going to put a show for all the fans. All the women out there who look up to us, we want to put on a show for everybody really. Stand up at the end of the fight and clap and be very happy. This is the thing that I look for.”
Cris ‘Cyborg’Justino responded:
“Yeah I think that every girl who fights in the UFC has a big responsibility for growing women’s MMA, it make me really happy to be apart of this. I think the fight with (Amanda Nunes), two champions are going to fight each other, I think it’s going to be big. A big step for Women’s MMA. I appreciate all the women who fight any place. For women who are making the best they can to promote women’s MMA.”
As the year comes to a close with UFC 232, the ESPN sits just around the corner. The timing of Cyborg vs. Nunes lines up perfectly with the transition to a different broadcast platform. On ESPN, pastures are greener. ESPN is a powerhouse in the world of sports television. FOX Sports is nothing to scoff but there is a difference in the inherit viewership of both channels. Although the deal takes away more than a few live television broadcasts a year, the affiliation most certainly improves the ratings.
Growth and Opportunities
Bantamweight Amanda Nunes felt excited about the prospects of the new deal. She believes the deal helps continue to grow the UFC and the women’s divisions. Not only that, but the increased exposure creates better opportunities for fighters outside the cage.
“Always, when we have exposure, it’s good for the (fighters). For sponsors, for future things in your career, [it’s] always good to have exposure. I think this new deal is going to help a lot with exposure. I am happy with it, very happy, and I can’t wait to see where this new deal is going to take all the fighters now. UFC keep growing, women’s MMA keep growing and this fight is going to be huge. It’s going to really put women’s MMA out there. I know a lot of (women fighters) as an individual, I know every girl, every single one is a part of this. But me and (Cris Justino) now, we are going to make history. We are really going to make everyone stop and watch me and her fight. And this is going to be awesome.”
For Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino, the deal had a similar meaning. Her hope is that the deal with ESPN eventually leads to fighters making more. With the increased exposure, the business end of the marketing machine that is the UFC could rise and thusly impact the athletes.
“It’s great, we have the new deal that we are going to work with ESPN. This means maybe, the fighters are going to make more money. I don’t know. This’ll have to be good for everybody. But I think we’re going to be great, ESPN, fighting there.”
All that can be done now is wait. Wait for the conclusion to the greatest matchup and fight in women’s mixed martial arts history.