On paper, the UFC 250 main event — originally the co-feature of the card that was to transpire in Brazil a month ago — was a lopsided affair. Amanda Nunes, the only woman to wear two belts in the UFC, has long been considered the greatest female fighter of all time. Her list of conquered foes reads like a rogue’s gallery of women’s MMA: Ronda Rousey. Holly Holm. Cris Cyborg. Valentina Shevchenko. Germaine de Randamie. Miesha Tate. All of whom have worn gold in the UFC.
Felicia Spencer, the woman who would challenge Nunes in the first ever featherweight title defense for “The Lioness” felt green in comparison. Less than ten professional fights to start the night. Wins over Megan Anderson and Pam Sorenson were the biggest of her career. Yet against Cris Cyborg a year ago, Spencer had won over fans, among them UFC President Dana White. She also proved she could hang with the top dogs.
Saturday at UFC 250, “The FeeNom” needed to build on that experience. The only problem, she’d had just one fight in the interim. Not enough time to sharpen her skills to the level necessary to defeat Nunes.
Off the opening bell, it was Spencer outside. A kick by Nunes got the action going. Spencer closed the distance, leading with a punch. But the way inside led only to frustration. The takedown wasn’t there. And after separating, Nunes landed a hard right hand. A weapon that would return to haunt Felicia Spencer again and again.
There were few bright spots for the challenger. Spencer caught a kick, driving Nunes to the fence. Nunes however reversed and landed her own takedown. The Brazilian worked to side control, while Spencer moved to her knees — nearly playing into Nunes’ hands. Nunes would wind up back in half-guard, but that still let her sneak in an elbow.
In the second, the game plan for the challenger remained unchanged. Close the distance, find the takedown. But Spencer was eating more shots on the way in. Soon, she had her back to the fence, Nunes on the hunt. Very much a lioness. Spencer connected with a punch, charging forward, but again, found her self against the cage, circling away from harm. Or trying to.
An overhand right by Nunes looked nasty. And her takedown defense remained on point when Spencer shot in midway through the second. Elbows from the champ, to the side of Spencer’s head as she worked her way up, looked soul-draining. Nunes, throughout, had a look on her face, almost as if she was enjoying herself. Spencer was busted open. A spinning back fist from Nunes came next.
There was a head kick attempt by Spencer. Another glimmer that something might be there. Some way to figure out the puzzle that was Amanda Nunes. But it looked like Spencer was in for a long night — if it went the distance.
In the third, Spencer was hit hard enough to lose her mouth piece, which gave her a reprieve when the ref halted the action. The damage started to pile up this round, with Nunes adding a head kick, upper cuts, and more right hands. Spencer, as she did in the Cyborg fight, showed heart. But with her takedowns ineffective — or more accurately, Nunes’s defense cancelling them out — there was little in the way of a path to victory for her. Low kicks from the champ had piled up as well, with Spencer wary of putting her full weight on her lead leg. Closing the round with a spinning back fist, Amanda Nunes was firmly in the driver’s seat.
Cartoon level power! 👊
— UFC (@ufc) June 7, 2020
There might have been an argument to call things there. Throw in the towel. The Canadian was not about to quit however. A right hand snapped Spencer’s head back early in round four. Spencer’s corner had called for the takedown between rounds. But after three rounds of not being able to land one, they weren’t about to get any easier. Spencer remained game, but a spinning back kick didn’t have enough on it to do more than keep Nunes at bay for a moment. Nunes’ own spinning kick to the body sent Spencer into the fence. Nunes grabbed a leg and dumped her. Want a takedown? There it was. Just not for the challenger. Late in the fourth, Nunes began tagging the challenger. Spencer shot for a takedown out of desperation, but gave up her back. She was saved by the bell from a rear-naked choke, but had a shiny new hematoma to show for her troubles.
Another leg kick early in round five led to another takedown attempt by the challenger. The fight had become more painful to watch. Spencer stayed on the takedown, but Nunes was able to get in the driver’s seat. Spencer went to work looking to isolate an arm from the bottom, and added in a few elbows. Felicia Spencer was cut open again, Nunes slipping in elbows where she could. After Nunes pulled back, Spencer stayed sitting, kicking at her legs. When she got back up, the doctor came in, but Spencer insisted she could continue. The final sequence saw Nunes tag Spencer again, throw her down, and chop at her leg before the final bell. Each blow harder to watch than the last.
— UFC (@ufc) June 7, 2020
Post-fight, there arguments made that Spencer’s corner should have thrown in the towel. But there was never any question that Spencer would go the distance if she could. There was also little debate about whether she was a real threat to the woman considered the greatest of all time. For Nunes, the question becomes what’s next? And for once, that’s not a tired question marched out by media types after each and every fight. Amanda Nunes has cleaned out the biggest threats available to her. In two divisions. She’s also dismissed the idea of a drop to flyweight.
In other words, someone needs to step up and be noticed. Make a statement. Until then, “The Lioness” appears as if she’ll reign for some time to come. And now, she’s actively defended both her titles, while holding them simultaneously. A UFC first.
Official Result: Amanda Nunes def. Felicia Spencer by unanimous decision (50-44, 50-44, 50-45)