Although she wasn’t taken seriously by the UFC at the start, Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes was able to make her own way through the ranks thanks to a tremendous level of pugnacity and great determination in the octagon.
Today, the Brazilian savours the privilege of holding a unique status for a woman in the organization; being a champion of two categories simultaneously. No woman had ever accomplished such a feat before her.
Let’s grab some highlights of Amanda Nunes combat career before the hit list…
Becoming a double-champ following her victory over Cris Cyborg, Nunes is now considered by many to be one of the greatest female fighters of all time. She’s appreciated by her colleagues for her kindness, even though she might not garner the greatest amount of recognition in the public eye.
Also known by her nickname, “The Lioness”, she has challenged some big names in her career, for example Sara McCann, the first American Olympic medallist (who took silver in Athens in 2004) in history. Then there’s Miesha Tate, a former Strikeforce and UFC champion, whom she defeated in July 2016 at the UFC Defense of the Belts event in 2000.
Then there’s Ronda Rousey, the former UFC undefeated champion who’s done so much for the development of female MMA in the big US organization. Don’t forget Valentina Shevchenko, the current UFC Flyweight belt holder, who was twice beaten by Nunes. But above all, the Brazilian Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino Venâncio – untouchable in MMA for more than thirteen years before falling prey to the lightning fists of her compatriot in December 2018 and giving up her Featherweight title.
In the meantime she continued with a victory against another legend-breaker, Holly Holm by TKO.
Amanda Nunes became the first UFC champion in history to be openly gay in 2016, her partner being fellow UFC fighter, Nina Ansaroff. She never used her relationship or sexual orientation as any sort of publicity stunt. The champion only reveals this aspect of her life when asked, and it is always with kindness; “In my childhood, I was already in love with girls. This is how I was born, I already felt like that.”
With 19 career wins, Nunes went the distance only 3 times. We’ve compiled a short list that reflects Nunes’s well-rounded style and predatory instincts all used with great impact in her best finishes. Follow on as we countdown Amanda Nunes’ Top 5 MMA Finishes (in descending order)!
- Vs. Shayna Baszler — UFC Fight Night 62 (Mar. 21, 2015)
- Vs. Sara McMann — UFC Fight Night 73 (Aug. 8, 2015)
- Vs. Miesha Tate — UFC 200 (Jul. 9, 2016)
- Vs. Ronda Rousey — UFC 207 (Dec. 30, 2016)
- Vs. Cris Cyborg — UFC 232 (Dec. 29, 2018)
Nunes earned a TKO win at the 1 minute 56 second mark of the first round when referee Mario Yamasaki stepped in to save Baszler, who grimaced in pain when the Nunes’ kick connected.
Seconds earlier, Baszler was already in trouble after taking several hard left hooks and a front kick to the body in addition to those whipping leg kicks.
Amanda Nunes pounced on a missed kick opportunity by McMann and dropped her with a punch.
The fight was pretty much over from there as Nunes punched away and locked in a rear-naked choke for the finish at the 2 minute 53 second mark in the very first round. This earned her her first UFC Performance of the Night bonus.
This bout was the beginning of Nunes’ reign over the Bantamweight division.
Nunes had built a reputation for fast starts in her career, and this fight was no different. The Brazilian immediately started chipping away at Tate’s defense with stiff jabs and crosses which pretty much all found their target.
With early confidence gained, there followed an onslaught of heavy and heavier strikes before Nunes put Tate down.
Once there, Nunes wasted no time to lock in a choke on Tate that forced the tapout putting the belt around her waist. In addition to the belt, she also earned her second Performance of the Night bonus in the UFC.
Amanda Nunes defended her UFC Bantamweight belt for the first time against Ronda Rousey.
It was just five months prior, at UFC 200, where Amanda Nunes defeated Miesha Tate and we could see that she was not merely resting on her laurels. She would continue her hunt for prey with sights set next on MMA legend, Ronda Rousey.
Nunes stalked Rousey from the opening bell, as if totally disregarding the hand skills Rousey exhaustively worked on with coach Edmond Tarverdyan. Nunes also disrupted Rousey’s clinch work and bullying tactics that she relied on throughout her years as an Olympic judoka. The Brazilian served up a submission in the first round.
At every turn, Nunes flustered Rousey, finally landing one big shot that changed the entire tune of the fight. She then landed several more, sending Rousey flailing across the cage before chasing her down to deliver more punishment. Referee Herb Dean called a stop to the bout after only 48 seconds.
It was one of the biggest female fights of the decade. Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes versus Cris Cyborg, the Featherweight champion and most feared fighter of the game.
There was no big stare down between the two champions. From the very start of the fight, the two rushed towards each other eager to bring the showdown on – one that would quickly turn to Amanda Nunes’ advantage.
“The Lioness” rained punches upon her opponent, who put a knee down in the first thirty seconds of the fight. Dominant as usual, Nunes maintained the pressure with her hard-hits. Cris Cyborg was knocked down again by a huge combo of 1-2 punches, forcing the referee to call the contest. Amanda Nunes defeated the most feared female in combat history in just 51 seconds.
She became the first woman mixed martial artist to hold two belts simultaneously and earned her fourth Performance of the Night bonus.