Amanda Nunes is undoubtedly the greatest female fighter in UFC and MMA history. Over the years, she’s proven her greatness time and time again inside the octagon.
No other female fighter has the same highlight reel as Amanda Nunes. ‘The Lioness’ has defeated a total of six former or current UFC champions during her tenure with the promotion.
So prior to her big title defense against Julianna Pena, here are five times that Amanda Nunes proved her greatness inside the octagon.
#5. Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson – UFC 259
Amanda Nunes’ most recent title defense came back in April of this year. She defended her UFC featherweight title against top contender Megan Anderson.
On paper at least, this fight actually sounded like a tricky bout for ‘The Lioness’. Anderson was coming off two victories inside the octagon, one of which was a genuinely brutal one-shot knockout of Norma Dumont.
Standing at 6’0” and boasting a lengthy 72” reach, the Australian was the first opponent in a long time to hold a genuine size advantage over Amanda Nunes. Despite Anderson’s lesser experience, there were genuine questions around how ‘The Lioness’ would deal with her.
The answer ended up being with surprising ease. Nunes didn’t waste any time allowing Anderson to use her lengthy reach. Instead, she simply waded in, landing a pair of right hands that instantly put the Australian on wobbly legs.
From there, ‘The Lioness’ forced her to the ground, took her back and then transitioned into a triangle choke/armbar combination that forced Anderson to submit just over two minutes into the first round.
Not only had Nunes dispatched a very dangerous challenger in the first round, but she’d done it with ease in one of her most violent showings to date.
#4. Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko – UFC 215
It’s probably fair to say that Amanda Nunes’ UFC bantamweight title defense against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215 wasn’t all that entertaining. In fact, it could easily be seen as one of the worst UFC headline bouts in recent years.
However, the way ‘The Lioness’ showed that she’d matured from their first clash – which took place at UFC 196 eighteen months earlier – was a definite sign pointing to her greatness.
That first bout saw Amanda Nunes dominate the opening two rounds with her powerful ground game, only to gas out badly in the third, allowing Shevchenko to come back with a vengeance.
‘Bullet’ wasn’t quite able to finish Nunes and complete her comeback, but it was clear that there was unfinished business between the two.
Sure enough, the UFC booked a rematch between the two – with Nunes’ title now on the line – at UFC 215. However, if Shevchenko was banking on Nunes blowing up over five rounds, she was sorely mistaken.
Instead, ‘The Lioness’ fought a remarkably cerebral fight, going toe-to-toe with a fighter many fans figured was a more technically gifted striker, and largely outpointing her.
There were no signs of Nunes gassing out this time. While she only won via split decision and the fight wasn’t fun to watch, it was still a major achievement for her. When you consider Shevchenko’s achievements since, it stands as a major mark of Amanda Nunes’ greatness.
#3. Amanda Nunes vs. Miesha Tate – UFC 200
Prior to UFC 200, Amanda Nunes had a well-earned reputation as a violent but limited fighter in the bantamweight division.
Sure, ‘The Lioness’ had taken out the likes of Shayna Baszler and Sara McMann with her power game, but she’d also gassed out against Valentina Shevchenko, and had been beaten down badly by Cat Zingano in their bout.
When she was handed a shot at UFC bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, it felt like Nunes would act purely as a “challenger of the month” type for a more popular titleholder.
Instead, ‘The Lioness’ absolutely ran through Tate – destroying her with strikes before taking her to the ground and choking her out, all in just under three minutes.
Not only had Amanda Nunes claimed the UFC bantamweight title, but she’d established herself as more than just a brute power-based fighter. She was well on her way to proving herself as an all-time great.
#2. Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey – UFC 207
Sure, Rousey hadn’t fought in over a year following her shocking knockout loss at the hands of Holly Holm, but ‘Rowdy’ was still well established as the biggest female star in UFC history.
What’s more, Rousey had blown opponents such as Tate, Cat Zingano, and Alexis Davis out of the water. Many fans expected her to throw Nunes on her head and finish her with her trademark armbar.
Of course, what actually happened couldn’t have been further from that.
‘The Lioness’ simply didn’t let Rousey even get into gear, let alone out of first gear. She walked her down and within seconds, had her hurt with a big punch. From there, Nunes unleashed a truly vicious combination that destroyed ‘Rowdy’, forcing a referee stoppage in under a minute.
Prior to this bout, Amanda Nunes felt almost like a placeholder in the UFC bantamweight division. After it, it was clear that the Rousey era was done and the era of ‘The Lioness’ had begun.
#1. Amanda Nunes vs. Cris Cyborg – UFC 232
By 2018, Amanda Nunes had definitely established herself as the dominant force in the UFC’s bantamweight division. She’d made three successful defenses of her title after dethroning Miesha Tate two years prior.
However, when it was announced that she was stepping up to fight UFC featherweight champ Cris Cyborg at UFC 232 in a champion vs. champion bout, it was hard not to believe she was biting off more than she could chew.
Cyborg hadn’t lost a fight in well over a decade and had destroyed basically every opponent she’d faced inside the UFC and outside the promotion. She also held a big size advantage over ‘The Lioness’.
However, in one of the most shocking moments in UFC history, Nunes showed that not only did she have a speed advantage over her larger foe, she also carried absolutely insane power in her hands.
In the opening exchange of the fight, Nunes’ straighter, more technical punches landed before Cyborg’s wilder shots and left her badly stunned.
Before the Brazilian could even hope to recover, ‘The Lioness’ swarmed all over her. Nunes destroyed her with a combination, leaving her unconscious on the ground in under a minute.
This fight not only made Amanda Nunes a rare double UFC champion, but also turned her into a genuine superstar and established her as the greatest female fighter in MMA history too. This is something she’s only gone onto establish further since.