Amanda Nunes was a champion overlooked heading into UFC 232. The argument has long been that the UFC has failed to promote the women’s bantamweight champion. On Saturday at UFC 232, with a history-making victory against Cris Cyborg, Nunes forced the promotion’s hand.
There is a very strong case that Amanda Nunes is the best female fighter in MMA history. Nunes has finished fighters who have themselves been tabbed as the best female fighters in MMA history, such as Miesha Tate at UFC 200, Ronda Rousey at UFC 207 and now Cris Cyborg at UFC 232.
Not only did Nunes finish those three fighters, but did so in the first round, each differently. Tate submitted to a rear-naked choke, Rousey lost by TKO and Cyborg was knocked out.
Yes, Rousey was 12-0 and finished nine of her fights in under one minute. But after Rousey lost to Holly Holm, she was unable to get her belt back when she got her first chance to reclaim the title. On top of that, Rousey lost in 48 seconds, in quick fashion just as she had defeated so many other fighters.
Rousey and Cyborg, who were once expected to face off in a super-fight, were both finished by Nunes in 99 seconds combined. On top of that, if you look at the UFC’s two most recent title fights that ended in under one minute, both involve Nunes, beating Rousey and Cyborg.
There is no case for other female fighters: Amanda Nunes is the best female fighter in MMA history.
— UFC (@ufc) December 30, 2018
Holm and Tate were champions, but never successfully defended the bantamweight title. Nunes already has three title defenses at bantamweight.
Although the split decision from the judges was controversial at UFC 215, Nunes defeated current UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko twice, first doing so at UFC 196. Shevchenko is labeled as one of the most aggressive and well-rounded female fighters to ever fight and has been unable to defeat Nunes.
The UFC, surprisingly, failed to promote Nunes as a superstar for the promotion. Nunes had zero attention in the promotion leading up to Rousey’s return at UFC 207. In Nunes’ defense against Raquel Pennington at UFC 224 in her home country of Brazil, she got little attention once again for the fight.
In a country like Brazil, where there is a strong contingent of MMA fighters, Nunes might be the best MMA fighter in the nation right now. Yet her fight at UFC 224 did not get the coverage that other Brazilians got, such as Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo and Vitor Belfort, to name a few.
Clearly, the UFC was unaware that Nunes was the best female fighter of all time. Now, the promotion knows. Now, as a double-champ, the UFC must not miss again when Nunes fights. Especially with a potential rematch against Cyborg, as well as a potential title defense against Holm at either featherweight or bantamweight.
The UFC should have done a better job of promoting Nunes. GSP and Brock Lesnar have uncertain futures. Conor McGregor is taking a break. Let’s be honest, although Jon Jones returned and was victorious, he is not the most reliable superstar, given his past. That makes Nunes all the more important.
The UFC has all of the PR power to not only promote Nunes, but promote her as the biggest superstar in the UFC right now. Which is exactly what they need to do.