The Greatest Women’s Fighter of All Time
The conversation of the ‘Greatest of All Time’ for women’s MMA ran stale some time ago. One aspect that possibly hampers this discussion is the lack of divisions. In North America’s top organizations, UFC & Bellator (there is more than one), there are a combined 6 divisions. Bellator officially has a flyweight division and featherweight division. While the UFC has strawweight, flyweight, bantamweight, and featherweight. Maybe its the age of these divisions, having only been around since 2013. For the UFC Ronda Rousey lit the torch at UFC 157 in 2013. Bellator re-launched women’s divisions the following year, signing Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd. Maybe the absence of the once dominant force known as ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey disheartened the opinions of the oh so opinionated. Despite this lack of chatter, Amanda Nunes, the very women who dismantled Rousey inside a minute vies for the ‘GOAT’ status at UFC 232.
UFC 232 Will Crown a ‘GOAT’
Nunes takes on the infamous, Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino, at UFC 232. Cyborg is another well-credentialed candidate for ‘Greatest of All Time’ status. The two are arguably the most deserving candidates in all of women’s mixed martial arts, past and present.
Cyborg is unbeaten in her past 20 fights, her only loss coming in her professional debut. Nunes rides 7 consecutive victories going into UFC 232. Expand a bit further, she is 9 of her last 10. Her only loss coming to Cat Zingano. If the stakes stopped there, the fight between Nunes and Cyborg would still be significant in the history of MMA.
Pre-Title Shot Amanda Nunes
At this point, Amanda Nunes is the undisputed greatest UFC bantamweight of all time. Nunes holds only one loss on her UFC record that spans 10 fights. While with the UFC, Nunes exclusively competed in the bantamweight division. Her notable wins on her way to earning a title shot include; Germaine de Randamie, Valentina Shevchenko, and Sara McMann.
Her victories over McMann and de Randamie were extraordinarily impressive. The two victories highlight her pre-champion career with the UFC.
In her bout with Sara McMann, an Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling, Nunes put multiple aspects of her game on display. After countering a hard leg kick, McMann managed to get deep in on Nunes’ hips. With her athleticism, Nunes rode the throw attempts with double over-hooks. McMann pushed Nunes to the fence in this exchange but she never found herself trapped as she dug an under-hook, squared her hips and fired a knee as she circled out from the clinch.
From there, Nunes showed good footwork and striking. She holds serious power for the 135 lb. division and McMann certainly felt it. The Brazilian fighter moved in and out of range effectively. She moved laterally in retreat and attack, rarely was she moving along the same angle for more than a moment.
vs. de Randamie
Nunes’ bout with de Randamie showed a bit of her offensive grappling skill. Germaine de Randamie landed the first and only strikes on the feet. Off of lead hook-leg kick combination, Nunes snatched a single leg entry and moved to a body lock clinch. Nunes attempted a few varieties of takedowns before capturing both de Randamie’s hips and pulling her to the mat. The takedown came with the two propped against the fence. Germaine de Randamie kept her back to the fence when her hips bounced on the canvas.
For a few moments, it seemed as if de Randamie had an opportunity to escape wall walking to her feet. Before she could, Nunes pulled her off the fence while in the process of gaining mount. From mount, Nunes put an unhealthy portion of punches and elbows on the parrying arms and face of de Randamie. Herb Dean stopped the action after de Randamie attempted to defend approximately 14 elbows in 15 seconds by parrying with her arms.
Both these performances came at the beginning of Nunes’ UFC career. They proved the high level of skill the Brazilian had before joining the roster.
Run to the Title
Looking at her run to the title, Nunes began her campaign with a leg kick TKO victory over Shayna Baszler. Her performance was another dominant one as she controlled the entirety of the bout.
Next was her 1st round submission victory over Sara McMann. Then was her first close bout with Valentina Shevchenko. After defeating Shevchenko, Nunes got a title shot.
Miesha Tate held the title after defeating Holly Holm in an exhilarating comeback victory at UFC 196. As the new champion, Tate’s first defense attempt came at UFC 200 where she faced Nunes. At the event, Nunes crushed Tate with another 1st round submission stoppage.
The Champ is Here
Next, Nunes set her eyes on the former ‘Greatest of All Time’. She infamously took apart Ronda Rousey in 48 seconds at UFC 207. Next was her second bout against Shevchenko.
Her victories over Shevchenko, while it wasn’t a dominating stoppage like many others in this streak, was one of the more impressive. Of course, Shevchenko is the UFC’s flyweight champion. But before that, she was a dominating bantamweight. One whose only losses came at the hands of Nunes. Those two losses prompted the move to the weight class below for Shevchenko.
Shevchenko is undefeated in her UFC career when facing opponents not named Amanda Nunes. Not only is Shevchenko undefeated, she holds wins over Sarah Kaufman, Holly Holm, Julianna Pena (by 2nd round arm-bar), and recently Joanna Jedrzeyczyk.
Nunes’ most recent defense was a dominant showing against Raquel Pennington. The dominant defense over Pennington answered a few lingering questions to be had of Nunes. Issues with output in the latter rounds were a major concern but at UFC 224, against Pennington, Nunes quelled those criticisms. Her output wavered significantly less as the fight continued against Pennington than it did against Shevchenko in both their fights.
Amanda Nunes’ opponent, Cris Cyborg is a well noted for her cage dominance. In her own right, ‘Cyborg’ holds claim to ‘Greatest of All Time’. Her wins over Gina Carano, Marloes Coenen (twice), and Holly Holm boast as much.
While both do hold claim to ‘GOAT’ status, at this moment it is uncertain which one holds a significant edge over the other. What is certain, a ‘GOAT’ rises at UFC 232 when the two women finally meet inside the locked cage doors.