Amanda Nunes is on the cusp of sweeping the bantamweight division, but familiar foe Germaine de Randamie remains in her way before she stands alone on the mountain at UFC 245.
On Saturday night, Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes has a chance to complete her sweep of the 135lb division as she looks to record her fourth defense of the bantamweight title. Her resume in the last three years is an unreal one to read with knockouts over Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey, and Holly Holm and two decision victories over Valentina Shevchenko. This isn’t even mentioning her seminal moment in knocking out Cris Cyborg to claim the featherweight title and become the first ever female double champion in the UFC.
On paper, it would appear that the hardest part of the job has been done. That is exactly why the fight is a dangerous one for Nunes. She maintains that the love of the competition has pushed her to cut no corners, but the threat of complacency remains a very real one for any athlete. There are no more challenges, at least major threatening ones, on the horizon. A new contender is always found, that is the way of the fight game. But in terms of her resume, Saturday’s fight presents the final turn in what has been an incredible race.
By her own admission, “The Iron Lady” Germaine de Randamie was on parole with the UFC until recently. After the controversy in not facing Cris Cyborg and being stripped of the featherweight title, many doubted de Randamie would ever fight for a belt again. However, the hunt for a challenger for the dominant champion has opened the door for the Dutch kickboxer to claim UFC gold once more. Perhaps fittingly, it is also a chance to avenge her last career loss, as Nunes and de Randamie previously fought six years ago at a time when the two were still developing into the top talents that they are today.
While an absence due to injury following the featherweight saga halted her momentum, de Randamie had a successful return to action last year when she notched a victory over then recent title challenger Raquel Pennington. She followed that victory up with a headlining bout against top prospect Aspen Ladd whom she dispatched in 16 seconds. It should be noted, she also defeated former champion Holly Holm back in 2017 to win the featherweight title. De Randamie has three losses, but they have only been against top talent in Nunes, current Bellator champion Julia Budd, and current Invicta champion Vanessa Porto.
A battle on the feet promises to bring fireworks in Vegas as the two are powerful athletes with plenty of skills and power between them. De Randamie is the more technical striker who throws straight punches from a traditional stance while Nunes has evolved into a threatening force on the feet who effectively uses her explosive power. The challenger should look to get in-and-out on the feet and use high volume to outwork Nunes. Staying close to the champion gives “The Lioness” a chance to counter and do damage so de Randamie would be best served trying to drag the fight into deep water. Nunes by comparison should look to hurt de Randamie with leg kicks to slow down her mobility and thus make it easier to unload shots down the stretch. Finally, Nunes is a competent grappler and can look to take the fight to the ground where she figures to have an advantage.
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Similar to Max Holloway in the co-main event, an upset of the dominant Nunes would lead to an immediate rematch with de Randamie. Should Nunes defend the title, it is anyone’s guess what could be next. Rising contenders such as the aforementioned Ladd, Ketlen Vieira, and Irene Aldana are all working their way up the ladder but it will be very difficult to see any of the remaining challengers stopping her reign after all that she has accomplished.