There is something absolutely beautiful about watching someone who genuinely loves what they do go to work. Amanda Nunes has so much fun in the UFC octagon when she fights that she literally smiles while she is in there creating a violent masterpiece. On Saturday night, “The Lioness” dominated Felicia Spencer for 25 minutes from start to finish en route to a historic Unanimous Decision victory.
Nunes is the first ever UFC women’s double champ, and now she is the first woman to defend both belts. This was historic for multiple reasons and Amanda deserves to be celebrated for them.
First, this was the first ever title fight in the UFC Apex. It is also Pride month and she is the first open member of the LGBT community to be a UFC world champion. Time and time again, Darren Rovell of ESPN’s moronic comments that she is not marketable are proven wrong.
Although this featherweight fight was a one-sided affair, Felicia Spencer deserves some credit here. Spencer lasted longer and took more punishment than former champions Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, and Miesha Tate combined.
While many may say that this was a fight that shouldn’t have been made, or that Felicia was not ready, I offer you two things: who else was left for Felicia to fight and when would you have wanted to see the women’s 145 lb. title on the line again?
To answer the first question, the answer is no one. There was only one other contender level fighter in the division, Megan Anderson, and Spencer submitted her in the first round. In fairness to the belt and the division, the last time the title was on the line was 18 months ago in December of 2018 when Nunes won it from Cris Cyborg.
Amanda is just that damn good.
The only woman to present any sort of real damage or adversity to Amanda in recent history was women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. Amanda won the Split Decision in that 2017 fight, which put her at 2-0 against Valentina.
Serious question: who is next or who is left in either division for Amanda?
Sure, there is a name I can offer for each division that may be seen as “next”, but each of these two ladies (respectfully speaking) need more time to really be in a good position to threaten for the throne.
For featherweights, I love the optics of the Megan Anderson matchup. Megan is 6’ tall, has good coaching, and has real knockout power on the feet. But as previously mentioned, Spencer was able to finish her. Tough sell at the moment.
For bantamweights, #3 Aspen Ladd is the up-and-comer. Ladd has a tough test against #9 Sara McMann later this month, but provided she gets through her, Ladd is the next name on the rankings list that Amanda has not yet beaten.
Presently, this may be even more lopsided than the Spencer matchup. Keep in mind that Ladd is just 25-years-old, and she got knocked out in just 16 seconds by Germaine de Randamie. Yes, the same Germaine de Randamie that Amanda dominated for 25 minutes just six months ago. So, again, another tough sell.
I will ask once again, who is left for Amanda?
While there have been whispers from fans and media members for a third Shevchenko fight, UFC President Dana White has quickly shut that idea down multiple times citing the current standing in that series and the potential Shevchenko versus Weili Zhang superfight as his reasons.
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and multiple time world champion boxer Claressa “T-Rex” Shields has been asking for a MayMac type of superfight. Shields has also been on record stating that she would be open to stepping into the cage.
A couple of major differences here are that, outside of hardcore fans, Shields is relatively unknown whereas the MayMac pairing put the biggest, highest-grossing global star in boxing against the biggest, highest-grossing global star in MMA. Mayweather was also his own promoter and had the capital resources to put on the event.
To put it in perspective, Shields has a networth of up to $5 million, Mayweather has a networth of more than $500 million. Huge difference. In an uncertain era due to the pandemic, with zero gate revenue and hundreds of millions of dollars being sacrificed from that end of the business, it is highly unlikely that this fantasy matchup comes to fruition.
The potential darkhorse to the mix is another 2x Olympic Gold Medalist, except she comes from the Judo world. This would be the PFL MMA 155 lb. champion Kayla Harrison. Aside from her contract with PFL (no events being held until 2021 due to the pandemic), the major looming question here is if Harrison can cut the extra weight.
I will ask once more, who is left for Amanda? Amanda Nunes is the greatest of all time.
-Jordan Kurtz is a founding member of Comments From The Peanut Gallery and The MMA Plug and can be followed on Instagram at @CommentsFromThePeanutGallery and @TheMMAPlug303