At UFC 239, Amanda Nunes furthered her legacy and vigorously strengthened her argument as the greatest fighter in the history of women’s MMA. She has now added Holly Holm to the mantle of wins, of course joining Ronda Rousey, Meisha Tate, Cris Cyborg, and two entries of Valentina Shevchenko. Nunes’ greatness is now undisputed, and her status as the WMMA GOAT is essentially locked in, so the only real question that stands now is, what’s next for The Lioness? Let’s list out the potential opponents and options she has going forward.
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A post shared by Art By Danilo de Almeida 🇧🇷 (@daniloalmeida.art) on Jul 7, 2019 at 10:32am PDT
Winner of Germaine de Randamie-Aspen Ladd
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A post shared by Germaine de Randamie (@ironladymma) on Jun 19, 2019 at 9:53am PDT
This one seemingly makes the most sense given the rankings, stylistic matchups, and momentum of each fighter. Germaine de Randamie, the former featherweight champion, is coming off of a win over former title challenger and Nunes victim, Raquel Pennington back in November, a fight that saw de Randamie control the action from the opening bell en route to a dominant decision. de Randamie’s last loss came against Nunes back in 2013. She now rides a four fight winning streak which includes a win over Holly Holm for the featherweight title that Nunes currently holds. The undefeated Aspen Ladd is making a short turnaround after defeating Sijara Eubanks in May. Ladd won the competitive fight, albeit by showing some holes in her game. Specifically, susceptibility to power strikers, which would make a matchup with Nunes seemingly very much in Nunes’ favor as long as the fight was on the feet. While the winner of this fight seems like a shoe in for the next shot at the 135lb strap, a convincing performance would solidify the winner as the number one contender. Given Nunes’ status as a two-division champion, a boring decision or a close win may not be enough to sway her or the UFC brass towards a bantamweight title defense, especially with the featherweight matchup looking potentially more compelling.
Winner of Cris Cyborg-Felicia Spencer
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A post shared by Felicia "The FeeNom" Spencer (@feenom479) on May 31, 2019 at 1:23pm PDT
Just like the bantamweight headliner in Sacramento this Saturday, the featherweight matchup in Edmonton on July 27 serves as a de facto title eliminator at featherweight, with the winner, especially if it ends up being Cyborg, likely being the favorite to earn the next scrap with Nunes. We’ve seen the Nunes-Cyborg story before, we’ve all seen the knockout numerous times. That being said, a rematch between the two would very unlikely yield the same result. The two consensus queens of female MMA seem to be the only weakness for the other. However, Cyborg has to get past former Invicta FC champion Felicia Spencer first, an undefeated grappler who dominated Megan Anderson in her debut last May. Many people see Spencer as a live dog in this fight, and a finish of the former featherweight queen would seemingly solidify her status as Nunes’ next challenger, albeit with some rings coming in for the de Randamie-Ladd winner as well. Ideally, for the UFC, a Cyborg win would be the perfect storm to set up the rematch in December. But, again, don’t look past the always game Spencer, especially after her latest showing.
A post shared by Julianna Nicole Peña (@venezuelanvixen) on Apr 5, 2019 at 1:01pm PDT
This is one that should’ve happened a few years back after Nunes claimed the title off of Meisha Tate at UFC 200, which was the same night Peña dominated former title challenger Cat Zingano on the undercard. As it turned out, Peña ended up getting shafted out of her title shot in favor of the returning Ronda Rousey. Peña instead fought Valentina Shevchenko the following month and got finished in the second round, losing out on her title shot, and subsequently going on an extended hiatus due to her becoming pregnant. Peña was the number 2 contender when she began her hiatus, and now finds herself returning this weekend against Nicco Montaño in a fight she’s taking on short notice and a fight that could launch her right back into title contention with an impressive win over a former champion. Given the background and prior heat between the two, a win from Peña could put her in the cards for a matchup with Nunes in the near future.
And if we want to get real wild…
A post shared by N I C C O R A E (@nrmontano) on Feb 15, 2019 at 11:25am PST
This hinges, of course, on whether or not Montaño can get past Julianna Peña in Sacramento this weekend, but if she is able to pull it out, why not? Peña is a very high level fighter when she’s active. So if Montaño, the former flyweight queen, can pull it off, what would be the issue making this fight next? It’s marketable, in theory at least, and while Nunes would be a massive (I cannot stress that word enough) favorite in this fight, it would give her the chance to hold wins over every single women’s champion 125lbs and higher. To hold a status like that in modern MMA would be nothing short of jaw dropping. Whether or not you want to consider Montaño a legitimate former champion given the spottiness and odd reign she had, this fight would once again be a status fight for Nunes given the title and status Montaño herself briefly held as champion.
A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Amanda Nunes🦁 (@amanda_leoa) on Jul 7, 2019 at 3:39am PDT
The way I see it, no matter who Nunes faces, she’ll be the favorite, and barring a potential knockout if she were to face Cyborg once again, or something even more fluky, like a loss to one of the others listed on this list, it’s hard to see Nunes losing her status atop the FEMMA mountain. Nunes has earned her title as the women’s GOAT, and it’s hard to envision her losing that throne right now. She’s more than proven that she truly is one of the best to ever do it, regardless of gender.■
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