On Saturday night, Amanda Nunes will attempt the sixth defense of her bantamweight championship in the co-main event of UFC 269. For the occasion, Nunes (21-4, 14-1 UFC) will lock horns with Julianna Pena. The pair should have met in August, but the defending champion tested positive for COVID-19 and pulled out of the fight that time. As expected, the odds are all in favor of the “Lioness” Nunes, whose odds range from -800 to -1000 at bookmakers, while her opponent is somewhere between +500 and +650.
The reason for this disparity resides in Nunes' furious punches, polished technique, enviable energy, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu finesse. Combining all these skills, she took two weight divisions by storm. In doing so, she seemed almost an unstoppable force in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Since making her promotional debut in August 2013, the Strikeforce and Invicta FC alum has broken all sorts of records and defeated some of the best names that ever competed in WMMA, putting herself in a league of her own. Her numbers alone prove that fans are in the presence of greatness every time she steps into the Octagon.
Her record speaks for itself, featuring 13 victories by knockout or technical knockout, four submissions, and as many decisions. The list of victims she put away with punches includes a series of former UFC champions as Cristiane Justino, a.k.a. Chris “Cyborg,” Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, and Germaine de Randamie, all names among of the best WMMA fighters in the 10s. More impressively, Nunes scored sub-minute stoppages at the expense of Rousey and Cyborg. First, she put “Rowdy” away in 48 seconds, then she removed Justino of her faculties in 51 seconds.
The victory over Cyborg made Nunes one of the only fighters in company history to hold two belts simultaneously. That short-listed club includes Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, and Henry Cejudo. After submitting Miesha Tate at UFC 200, capturing the 135-pound title on the occasion, and scoring three title defenses, Nunes set her eye on the featherweight championship. No sooner said than done, the Brazilian moved up a division and claimed the throne all for herself. Unlike the other two-division champions, Nunes not only defended both belts, but she did it multiple times.
So far, only the former Ring Of Fire two-division queen Cat Zingano stopped Nunes after scoring an impressive comeback at UFC 178 on Sept. 27, 2014. That is the only loss the “Lioness” suffered in the UFC, and it went down more than seven years ago. Now, she is on a 12-fight winning streak. Her latest Octagon appearance coincided with Nunes setting the record for the most consecutive victories for any female UFC fighter.
Nunes also holds the record for most wins (14) and most finishes (10) for a woman in the UFC; the one for most victories in title fights for a woman (nine); most first-round stoppages (nine) and most title defenses (seven). Even compared to some fellow male fighters, she doesn’t fade away. At the time of writing, only Jim Miller and former UFC heavyweight kingpin Frank Mir have recorded more first-round stoppages (10 each) after introducing the Unified Rules. Nunes will also go down in the history books as the first openly gay champion in UFC history. Over the years, she advocated very much for the LGBT community's rights.
The worst-case scenario for Nunes is losing her belt at the upcoming UFC 269. It looks improbable, but fans already know everything can happen inside the Octagon. Even in that remote hypothesis, Nunes would go down as the most remarkable woman to ever compete in MMA. Arguably, the only challenge she still has to overcome is the two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time Professional Fighters League champion Kayla Harrison. But even if that fight doesn't come to fruition, there should be no more debate about the GOAT of WMMA. Nunes is unquestionably the greatest fighter to ever compete in WMMA.