Two G.O.A.T.s at UFC 239

Where to watch: Saturday, July 6th, 2019, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada. Available on ESPN PPV.

The G.O.A.T returns this Saturday. I know what you are thinking. Yeah, I’m not paying good money to see Jon Jones annihilate No. 3 contender Thiago Santos to retain his Light Heavyweight Title. Well, that’s the main event. The co-main event is where I want you to concentrate your attention. The G.O.A.T I’m referring to is Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes.

The avid combat sports fan is well aware of Amanda Nunes, and her dominance, but I feel as if the general public is a little late to this party. She first came to the public conscience in 2016 when she became the first openly gay Champion in UFC history. Amanda Nunes is engaged to fellow UFC fighter Nina Ansaroff, and you can follow their antics on @amanda_leoa on Instagram, or @Amanda_Leoa ‏on Twitter.

Nunes also has a local connection. She is from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, but she fights out of the American Top Team Gym in Coconut Creek, Florida. If I am starting to sound like a fan of hers, well, I am. Nunes, after losing to Cat Zingano in spectacular fashion in September of 2014, has laid a path of destruction through a who’s who of Female MMA stars. Nunes is a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a Brown Belt in Judo, but make no mistake, her draw is that she has uncanny, scary power.

On July 9th, 2016, everything changed for Amanda Nunes. Not only did she defeat Miesha Tate for the Bantamweight Title, but UFC President Dana White recognized her as the draw that she is, and placed her at the upper tier among the highest paid in the UFC. This fight showed you how she is feared as well, as Tate, a woman who famously refused to tap out to Ronda Rousey and “allowed” for her arm to be broken to not give Rousey the satisfaction of a tap, looked visibly shaken/afraid of Nunes.

Nunes’ star was already on the rise, but after retiring the biggest star, male or female (Ronda Rousey) in UFC history in 48 seconds, she cemented her main event status. So much so, that it takes a champion like Jon Jones to share the headliner bill for UFC 239. One can argue that she shouldn’t share a co-main event, as she is a draw herself. Then came Cris Cyborg and an opportunity to become the only woman to hold championship belts in different divisions simultaneously.

To say that Cris Cyborg, for almost a decade was a terrifying figure is an understatement. Putting the insulting requests aside, many fighters including Rousey “challenged” Cyborg to a battery of tests to prove that she was not on performance enhancers. Plenty of “ducking” from the upper echelon of fighters in the UFC ensued. Only one fighter did not care. One fighter made weight accommodations, and jumped at the first possible opportunity. Amanda Nunes. What came next was the destruction of the seemingly indestructible Cris Cyborg in 51 seconds.

Now, another dangerous opponent, Holly Holm awaits. This fight could be really interesting in the sense that these are the two best female strikers in the sport. Holm’s size and range could give Nunes some problems, and force her to go deeper into her repertoire, and show those Black Belt Jiu-Jitsu chops. This is an exciting time for Women’s MMA, and no offense to Ronda Rousey, who accomplished plenty, but we now have a complete fighter carrying the banner. While Rousey sold PPV’s (Nunes has struggled as a headliner on PPV buys), Nunes through her dominance could eventually land her among the PPV kings/queens.

I’ll be watching on Saturday. I urge you all to do the same.

Alfredo Arteaga (@UptownReport) is one-third of the trio that does the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast.

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