The Rise of Amanda Nunes Can Begin at UFC 224
In front to her home fans and family in Brazil, Amanda Nunes’ glowing dominance will try and outside title challenger Raquel Pennington, when she defends her Women's Bantamweight Title at UFC 224.
This fight will be Nunes’ third defense of the title since winning it back at UFC 200 in 2016. If her reign has seemed like a quiet one, you aren’t imagining things; the UFC has been quite mum on promoting her as a champion. However, that could all change with a strong punch from one hand and a mic in the other.
The UFC might not even have known they have hit a goldmine. Nunes (15-4) may be the most marketable star the UFC has. In today’s day and age, she is the perfect role model for the new generation of MMA fans. She is a woman, an open and proud lesbian and of foreign descent (she is a native of Brazil). When Nunes defeated Ronda Rousey in fast, devastating fashion, that very well should have been a passing of the torch moment for all involved. In a sense, it was, but combine Rousey’s media silence and the UFC’s favoritism of the Rowdy one, and Nunes has been left in the dark.
There will be plenty of eyes on her now that she is fighting at home. With the prospects of a Nunes vs Cyborg bout on the horizon, the UFC will most likely be pushing for her to win. Before the potential dream match, her push should have happened months, even years ago.
That is not to say her opponent has no chance. Pennington (9-5), a lesbian herself, has won four fights in a row, and five of her last six fights. Her last fight was in 2016, a unanimous decision victory over Miesha Tate at UFC 205 in New York City. While the time away is concerning, her training and impressive resume has brought her to this moment.
The 29-year old from Colorado Springs, Colorado will look to out-box Nunes, a tough task, considering she only has one knockout win compared to Nunes’ ten. If she can get Nunes to the ground, her three wins via submission could help her succeed. If anything, she is a survivor, winning five fights via decision, including her last three.
Either women winning will be good for the sport. Being the main event on one of the biggest shows of the year is something to be proud of, and it is something there should be more of. Nunes winning can help both the cause of another superfight and the legitimacy of the Bantamweight Title. Before Nunes’ reign, the title played a game of hot potato after Rousey lost to Holly Holm at UFC 193.
On Saturday, May 12, Amanda Nunes has a chance to show the world who she really is. The same can be said for Pennington. A win can catapult Nunes into the stratosphere, a move that was destined to happen since she made her MMA debut in 2008. Post-Rousey, Joanna Jedrzejczyk was the driving force for women’s mma. Now, she doesn’t have to be alone, as long as Nunes doesn’t get her path to glory taken away, by Pennington or the UFC.