Welcome to the UFC: Istela Nunes

Istela Nunes
Istela Nunes (right) vs Gina Iniong Credit: ONE Championship

The UFC is staying put at the Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 40 this weekend. The card is headlined by a women’s featherweight bout, with something of a twist. It will be the featherweight debut of Aspen Ladd, just two weeks removed from missing weight for a bantamweight fight, taking on Brazil’s Norma Dumont. Fellow Brazilian Istela Nunes has been attempting to make her promotional debut since 2019, something forestalled by a USADA suspension. It will finally happen tomorrow and Ariane Carnelossi will be welcoming her to the UFC.

Istela Nunes
Curitiba, Parana, Brazil
Paraná Vale Tudo

How will Nunes fare in the UFC:

Nunes is a stellar prospect that has a lot of potential. Wanting to keep the fight standing, the Brazilian has excellent kickboxing. She has excellent distance management maintaining it with her movement and kicks, as she uses the teep kick often. Her kickboxing is her main weapon and instantly you will see the stellar technique and diversity.

Nunes kicks more than she punches and although that’s her strong suit, she’s much better when she throws it all together. Her right hook-left hook-left head kick combination is a nice combo she throws often. Nunes’ biggest flaw is her takedown defense, getting taken down too easily in the past. Off her back, she’s not where she needs to be. I’ve had high praise for her in the past but the layoff is concerning.

  • Striking: B-
  • Kickboxing: A-
  • Clinch: B
  • Wrestling: D
  • Grappling: D
  • Striking Defense: B
  • Takedown Defense: C-
  • Cardio: B+
  • Biggest Strength: Kickboxing
  • Biggest Weakness: Ground game

How Nunes matches up with Carnelossi:

Carnelossi is a bull, always coming forward looking to land big shots. The Brazilian has power but it’s her constant pressure and will that break her opponents. She’s going to test Nunes right away.

Nunes wants a striker and that’s what Carnelossi is. Carnelossi isn’t too technical either and that’s good news for Nunes. Carnelossi is a tough girl to put away and very durable. That spells trouble for Nunes, especially off a long layoff. I’d like Nunes if this was in 2019 but there are too many questions with her leading into this fight. Nunes probably has bright spots early but I think Carnelossi takes over as the fight goes on.