Amanda Nunes is the First Female ‘Champ-Champ’ in UFC History… With Wins Over Some of the Game’s Legends, Can She Really be Considered the GOAT of Women’s MMA?
It’s hard to believe it, but women have only been fighting in the UFC for less than seven years. Since then, the skill levels of female fighters has developed exponentially, while their marketability has never been greater. Think of the likes of Rose Namajunas, Valentina Shevchenko, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. All of these fighters are as watchable as their male counterparts.
During their lengthy championship reigns, Jedrzejczyk and Cris Cyborg were two of the most feared fighters on the plant. Fighting the Polish queen meant your face was getting mangled, while getting in the cage with Cyborg meant you were going to be brutalized. Meanwhile, Ronda Rousey led the way for women’s MMA, breaking out to become a mainstream star.
However, the question must be asked: is Amanda Nunes the greatest female fighter of all time? When you look at her hit list of names, it’s very difficult to argue with this.
Ronda Rousey. Miesha Tate. Cris Cyborg. These three women share the fact that they’re all former UFC champions who were resoundingly upset by Nunes. Not only that, they were three of the most high-profile fighters on the roster. Nunes obliterated Rousey and Cyborg with ferocious knockout power, while she got a submission win over Tate.
The way she’s developed has been nothing short of extraordinary. Nunes possesses devastating power and her fight IQ has definitely improved. She paces herself much more efficiently than she used to and doesn’t panic. Cris Cyborg was riding a 20-fight winning streak before Nunes stopped her in the first round. Nobody gave her a chance.
Similarly, in the Rousey fight, Nunes just entered beast mode and bounced Rousey’s head around like a basketball. This was despite the UFC spending all of the pre-fight promotion on ‘Rowdy’s’ return. It didn’t faze ‘The Lioness’ one little bit.
Those arguing against Nunes’s status as the GOAT will point to her tight and contentious victories over Valentina Shevchenko, as well as her early career loss to Cat Zingano. Let’s deal with the latter first: that was five years ago. Nunes has got so much better since then. To quote John Kavanagh, you win or you learn. Tyron Woodley lost to Jake Shields in 2013. Is Shields better than Woodley now?
Meanwhile, Max Holloway lost back to back fights against Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor back in 2013. Now he’s arguably the greatest featherweight of all time – or at the very least second to Jose Aldo. GOAT status comes from championship success and how good your opponents are. Nunes has beaten three former champions and one current champion. That’s unbelievable.
The one anomaly is Valentina Shevchenko. The flyweight champion is widely seen to be one of the most technically complete fighters on the entire roster, with nobody expected to beat her in the near future. Nunes beat her twice, with many people questioning the validity of those victories.
In the first fight, Shevchenko started too slow. She picked up the pace towards the end, causing some people to say that if it was a five round fight the Kyrgyzstani fighter would have won. But it wasn’t and in the end, Nunes did just enough to get the win.
The second fight really could have been a draw. However, a successful takedown in the final round was ultimately enough to get Nunes the split decision win on two scorecards. Maybe she’ll get a chance to be the first triple champion in the UFC… Stranger things have happened.