Never, in the history of the UFC’s women’s division across the board have we witnessed a champion as dominant as Amanda Nunes. Sure, inaugural bantamweight best, Ronda Rousey once laid claim to that moniker, however, Brazilian phenom Nunes has comfortably gazumped Rousey as the most formidable force the promotion has ever had on its books since the inclusion of female mixed martial arts back at UFC 157.
Arguably, both Rousey and certainly the decorated current Bellator MMA featherweight best Cris Cyborg could be involved in that conversation, but yet again — Nunes reigns supreme stopping both with a couple first round barrages. Nunes is simply an outlier in every sense of the word when comparing her with past or present competition.
A 20-4 professional, laying claim to both bantamweight and featherweight spoils in the UFC, and since her assumption of the throne against Miesha Tate back at UFC 200 in the summer of 2016, she’s looked as comfortable in the Octagon as anyone, failing to offer any of her opponents since, the slightest inkling that she may have lost a step. Ahead of UFC 259 this weekend, I fail to see how Megan Anderson does what seven have failed to accomplish before here; knock Amanda Nunes from her perch.
Let’s first delve into the featherweight division — if we can even call it that. The promotion launched the 145-pound weight class in a bid to seemingly accommodate the above mentioned former champion, Cyborg. And even during her reign, the UFC did less than enough to stack the division with legitimate 145-pound talent, instead relying on the influx of former Invicta FC bantamweight champions, as well as pre-existing bantamweight contenders in the UFC to bulk up the ranks. Still to this day, the official UFC website fails to list a women’s featherweight division rankings system.
Nunes has only so far knocked back one challenger to her featherweight championship; former Invicta FC titleholder, Felicia Spencer — who returns against former professional boxer and recent Dana White’s Contender Series debutante, the 1-0 Danyelle Wolf. A sure sign of the level of competition the organization is looking to field.
In steps another former Invicta FC featherweight gold holder, Megan Anderson. The lengthy, rangy and kick-heavy Australian hasn’t had it all her own way in the UFC since her stint began back in June of 2018. Long sought as the potential derailer of the above mentioned, Cyborg, Anderson and the Brazilian failed to ever cross paths, however, this weekend Anderson draws Cyborg’s compatriot Nunes instead.
3-2 under the UFC’s banner, Anderson’s amassed a two-fight winning run — making light work of both Zarah Fairn dos Santos, as well as Norma Dumont Viana. And whilst the Queensland native takes the conceived #1 rank in the division — it certainly goes down as one of the easier title challenging positions a UFC fighter will find themselves in, through no fault of her own though it must be stressed — the division is just that thin.
In a quite frankly bizarre matchup with former bantamweight title chaser, Cat Zingano, Anderson scored her first UFC win via a TKO eye-injury, after one of her toes had grazed the eye of the former — resulting in an opening round stoppage after Zingano was left unable to continue.
Whilst Anderson has got some championship pedigree behind her, the Glory MMA & Fitness trainee has stuggled massively with the grappling prowess of the above mentioned, Spencer, and quite surprisingly, former bantamweight champion, Holly Holm — not quite the first combatant that springs to mind when you think of controlling positional grapplers.
Slicing through the 31-year-old with relative ease, Spencer landed in the UFC with a more or less straight forward rear-naked choke over the featherweight frame of Anderson.
I’d consider both former-foes of Nunes, Holm and inaugural UFC 145-pound champion, Germaine de Randamie as more technical and polished kickboxers when compared to Anderson. And I also believe that Nunes would be wise to implement a similar gameplan which seen her still both Spencer and de Randamie, particularly in December 2019’s rematch — to halt the striking offence of Anderson. Gruelling wrestling and positional control from the top.
Nunes hits incredibly hard at bantamweight, and at featherweight that power translates sufficiently, however, Spencer managed to withstand that offensive might and output true her sheer grit and will to stick in there. Whilst submitted three-times from her four professional losses — which proves incredibly worrying for Anderson when faced with minted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Nunes, I’d hedge my bets that she’s not been hit cleanly by a striker as fierce as Nunes — granted not many have until they have.
While it’s not a crystal-clear path to a successful knockback for Nunes, I certainly believe the Bahia native would be incredibly wise to utilise her offensive wrestling after some pressure to bring Anderson to the ground — where she can start to climb that lengthy frame is search of a submission.
Prediction: Amanda Nunes def. Megan Anderson via decision.
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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