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The Top #5 at 10: Amanda ‘The Lioness’ Nunes

When it comes to women’s mixed-martial-arts, you’ll travel a great distance to find a better professional competitor than Brazilian ace, Amanda ‘The Lioness’ Nunes.

You may argue Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, or Valentina Shevchenko have comparable résumés or success to Nunes, but the simple fact remains — Nunes has beaten them all. The Bahia-born striker has one of the most star-studded win columns the sport has ever seen. At UFC 245 recently, Nunes added to her staggering success with a second victory over Germaine de Randamie. It’s a win column which contains each and every former bantamweight, and featherweight champion — and the promotion’s current flyweight best.

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Cris Cyborg, Germaine de Randamie, Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey — Amanda Nunes has beaten the who’s who of women’s bantamweight mixed-martial-arts. She’s not only beaten them, but she has also stopped them all inside the opening round. She blitzed through Cyborg and Rousey with strikes. Demonstrated her kickboxing ability against the multiple-time world champion, Holly Holm. Displayed brutal ground fighting in both meetings with de Randamie. And, in her championship calling, reminded us of her stellar Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game as she lodged a first-round rear-naked choke win over Miesha Tate.

In the era of ‘Superfights’ and ‘Champ Champs’, Amanda Nunes presents arguably the most successful one. She’s the reigning featherweight and bantamweight division best, and despite the apparent hectic schedule, she has managed to return to 135-pounds after her earth-shattering win over Cyborg to defend the throne twice. She has outlined her plan to remain active at featherweight, with contender’s Megan Anderson, and Felicia Spencer waiting in the wings with potential title-eliminators booked for the pair in the opening quarter of 2020.

The fashion in which Nunes finishes some of the sport’s greats is truly incredible. For instance, let’s rewind back to December 2016. Former bantamweight champion, ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey, was making her first Octagon appearance since her cataclysmic knockout loss to Holly Holm. The promotional aspect of the bout was quite jarring — and one could argue, disrespectful. Granted, Rousey was still a gigantic star for the company despite the defeat, but refused to carry out any media obligations before, and subsequently after the fight. The powers that be tended to focus on the return of Rousey, a massive storyline no doubt, but while all this promotional work was aired, Nunes more or less fell into the shadows of the tie — which just so happened to take main-event billing.

A mere forty-eight seconds into the opening round, referee, Herb Dean, would peel Nunes off a helpless Rousey as the world was reminded of the Brazilian’s poise. Even ahead of her two-weight world championship crowning, Nunes entered the affair with Cris Cyborg with the chips stacked against here. The Curitiba native hadn’t lost a professional mixed-martial-arts fight since her bow — thirteen years previous to their UFC 232 meeting. Engaging in a foolish fire-fight with Nunes, Cyborg was taken out in similar fashion to Rousey, lasting just three seconds longer.

Since her 2013 debut with the company, Nunes has dropped just a single defeat — losing to now Bellator MMA contender, ‘Alpha’ Cat Zingano. And since her championship triumph at UFC 200, has made leaps and bounds in her overall game. A real legacy-defining fight for Nunes comes in the form of a trilogy closer, alongside fierce-foe, Valentina ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko. Nunes holds two victories over Shevchenko, although, the close 2017 rematch between the two warrants a rubber-match. Shevchenko has spoken of her obvious intentions to run back the pairing, but her move to flyweight has created some doubt surrounding the matchup in the near future. Nunes can really ride off into the sunset with her head held high, and her unmatched résumé lofted high in the sky as it is — but a clear-cut win over Shevchenko puts the icing on an already, rather grande cake.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ross_Markey

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