This past weekend, the Lioness triumphed in her final battle to defend her Bantamweight championship against Irene Aldana at UFC 289 in Vancouver. Amanda Nunes has been dominant in her illustrious career, and I will be exploring her journey since becoming Nunes became the champion in 2016, detailing the destruction she has caused in women’s MMA.
Our story begins in Paradise, Nevada at UFC 200. Nunes, who had won three consecutive fights, was given her first shot at the championship on a stacked card featuring UFC legends such as Anderson Silva, Daniel Cormier, Brock Lesnar, Mark Hunt, Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, and Cain Velasquez. However, major changes were made to the card due to Conor McGregor’s retirement tease and Jon Jones’ failed drug test.
As a result, Miesha Tate defended her Bantamweight championship against Nunes in the main event. The fight lasted only three minutes and sixteen seconds, with Nunes securing a rear-naked choke to clinch the championship and begin a journey that would last longer than most anticipated.
The original poster girl for the UFC’s women’s division, Ronda Rousey returned after losing at UFC 193 to Holly Holm, losing the Bantamweight championship while also suffering her first pro loss after going 12-0. In Rousey’s first bout back, she would challenge for the gold at UFC 207, and in the first 48 seconds of the first round, Nunes arms were raised and Rousey announced her retirement.
Nunes made history that night by becoming the first and only to defeat both Tate and Rousey who were the first two women to headline a major promotion in America when they were the main event of Strikeforce in 2012.
The champion continued her journey as she would go on to face Valentina Shevchenko for the second time in her career. Both women went the distance with Nunes retaining the gold in her first trip to Canada. Nunes would return 8 months later where she fought for the first time in 3 years in her homeland of Brazil where she would dominate Raquel Pennington before finishing them in the fifth and final round. Both women made history as this was the first-ever UFC event headlined by two openly gay fighters.
Several months later and Nunes was involved in a big heated rivalry to determine who is the greatest women’s MMA fighter between The Lioness and then-Featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. The whole world was asking for this fight since the UFC wasn’t able to book a super fight between Cyborg vs. Rousey a few years prior.
Nunes would move up in weight to make history and made it when she knocked Cyborg out in the first fifty-one seconds of the first round to become the new Women’s Featherweight Champion. This would also make her the first woman in UFC to hold championship belts in different divisions simultaneously.
The Lioness would spend the next two years continuing her domination, she followed up her knockout win over Cyborg by knocking out (Holly) Holm. Dominating Germaine de Randamie and Felicia Spencer with unanimous decisions and then submitting Megan Anderson to retain the Featherweight championship in March of 2021.
Nunes defended the Bantamweight gold successfully five times and the Featherweight gold twice before losing the Bantamweight title against Julianna Pena to end 2021. Nunes would reflect on her career following the loss, she contemplated retirement and even called up her coaches to let them know she was most likely done after dominating the UFC for years. The Lioness, however, would not call it quits, instead, she made her return seven months later and reclaimed the gold after controlling everything against Pena for five rounds at UFC 277 to take back her place as the queen of the division while proving she still was the greatest female fighter of all time.
The greatest female MMA fighter of all time made her final appearance without fanfare at UFC 289. She put on a clinical display of domination, successfully defending her gold against Aldana, who had stepped in at short notice to replace the injured Pena. Following her hard-fought victory, Nunes took a moment to express her gratitude to everyone who had supported her throughout her journey. She then placed her two titles on the mat alongside her gloves, announcing her official retirement from the world of MMA.
Many casual fans of MMA may claim to enjoy the sport but often belittle the top athletes. They argue that one must possess the exact same skills as Conor McGregor, who gained popularity through trash-talking, showmanship, and impressive finishes. However, they forget the pioneers who built the foundation of the sport. Here are a few examples.
Recently, Demetrious Johnson, considered the greatest of all time in men’s Flyweight, contemplated retirement after winning his trilogy match against Adriano Moraes in ONE Championship. Before being traded to ONE FC from UFC for Ben Askren, DJ defended the Flyweight championship in UFC eleven times, surpassing the record previously held by Anderson Silva, the GOAT of the men’s Middleweight division.
Johnson’s reign as champion from September 2012 until August 2018 was undeniably impressive, despite criticism from UFC management or fans regarding PPV buys. It’s simply deserving of immense recognition and respect and should have been honored with an induction into the UFC’s Hall of Fame alongside the legend Johnson surpassed in making history.
Here are the PPV buys for cards that Nunes did not headline and bouts that happened on it.
Nunes defeating Cyborg was headlined by Jon Jones beating Alexander Gustafsson in their rematch for the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight championship. Michael Chiesa submitted Carlos Condit in his return to welterweight. Alexander Volkanovski finished Chad Mendes who announced his retirement after. This card would also feature stoppage wins from future UFC Bantamweight champion Petr Yan, and the 3rd Degree Black Belt Ryan Hall. It only had 700K PPV buys.
Nunes defeating Holm was headlined by Jones beating Thiago Santos to retain the Light Heavyweight championship. Jorge Masvidal made history by getting the fastest knockout in UFC history in 5 seconds against Ben Askren. Jan Blachowicz spoiled the light heavyweight debut of Luke Rockhold by taking his jaw in the second round. This card featured wins from rising contenders Arnold Allen, Marlon Vera, and Song Yadong on the prelims. The PPV numbers were never released for this card.
The PPV numbers for UFC 245 were never released either, the card would feature Nunes defeating de Randamie. This card was headlined by the heated rivalry between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington for the Welterweight championship, the co-main featured Alexander Volkanovski defeating Max Holloway to be crowned the new Featherweight championship. Marlon Moraes defeated the legend, Jose Aldo, this was the final win in Moraes’s career, and Petr Yan opened the main card by defeating Urijah Faber with a brutal head kick in the third round. This card would also feature Geoff Neal vs. Mike Perry, Ketlen Viera vs. Irene Aldana, Matt Brown vs. Ben Saunders, and Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France.
UFC 259 had 800K PPV buys when Nunes was the co-main event, defending her gold successfully against Megan Anderson. This card was headlined by Israel Adesanya’s move up to light heavyweight to face the champion Jan Blachowicz in an unsuccessful attempt. Aljamain Sterling won the Bantamweight title from Petr Yan due to an illegal knee. Islam Makhachev submitted Drew Dober in the third via arm-triangle, and it was opened up with a light heavyweight battle between Thiago Santos vs. Aleksandar Rakic. This would also feature wins from Dominick Cruz, Askar Askarov, Kai Kara-France, Tim Elliot, and Sean Brady.
UFC 269 had 500K PPV buys when Nunes was in the co-main event slot for the final time of her career where she lost to Pena in the second round via rear-naked choke for the Bantamweight championship. In the main event, Charles Oliveira submitted Dustin Poirier in the third, retaining the Lightweight title, this stoppage was also via rear-naked choke. This card would also feature Geoff Neal securing a win against Santiago Ponzinibbio via a split decision. Kai Kara-France knocked out Cody Garbrandt in the first round, and Sean O’Malley opened the Suga Show with a first-round TKO against Raulian Paiva.
The UFC had a lot of star power for their recent cards, but even without Nunes headlining, they couldn’t reach a million PPV buys. However, that doesn’t mean the card is not worth watching. It’s important to have an open mindset when heading into a big fight night. Don’t discount a fighter just because you don’t know their name. You never know who could surprise you and earn a spot on the main card or main event for a championship. Many of our favorite fighters started out in the early prelims and worked their way to the top. Not everyone can become a superstar like McGregor overnight.
Here are the accomplishments of Nunes in the span of her UFC career.
Six successful title defenses (overall) as UFC Bantamweight champion.
The most wins in UFC title fights amongst women (11)
Most wins in UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship fights (8)
Most bouts in UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship fights (9)
The first woman in UFC to win two titles and also hold them simultaneously
First fighter in UFC to defend titles in two divisions while holding both titles simultaneously
Fourth longest single UFC title reign of all time (1981 days) (behind Demetrious Johnson, Georges St-Pierre, and Anderson Silva)
Longest combined UFC title reign of all time (3606 days)
Tied (Anderson Silva) for fourth most title fight wins in UFC history (11)
Tied (Jéssica Andrade & Ronda Rousey) for most POTN bonuses in UFC Women’s history
Most wins in UFC Women’s history (16)
Most finishes in UFC Women’s history (10)
Most consecutive wins in UFC Women’s history (12)
Most knockout wins in UFC Women’s Bantamweight division history (6)
Most finishes in UFC Women’s Bantamweight division history (8)
Most wins in UFC Women’s Bantamweight division history (13)
Most consecutive wins in UFC Women’s Bantamweight division history (9)
Most knockdowns in UFC Women’s Bantamweight division history (6)
Most takedowns in UFC Women’s Bantamweight division history (32)
Second most bouts in UFC Women’s Bantamweight division history (15)
The Lioness stands as a symbol of true strength and determination for women’s MMA. Her unwavering spirit has conquered every challenge and silenced the skeptics, earning her a place in history as a great that will never be forgotten.
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