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No other woman in mixed martial arts history can match Amanda Nunes’ credentials.
The two-division Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder will defend her undisputed featherweight crown for a second time when she meets Megan Anderson in a UFC 259 co-feature this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Nunes, 32, has rattled off 11 consecutive victories, seven of them finishes during her rise to pound-for-pound supremacy. She last appeared at UFC 250 in June 6, when she laid claim to a five-round unanimous decision over Felicia Spencer.
As Nunes revs her engines ahead of her showdown with Anderson, a look at five of the moments that helped define her:
1. Entrance Exam
Nunes aced her Ultimate Fighting Championship entrance exam, as she put away Sheila Gaff with punches and elbows in the first round of their UFC 163 undercard pairing on Aug. 3, 2013 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Gaff succumbed to blows 2:08 into Round 1. Nunes completed a pair of takedowns on her overmatched German counterpart. She mounted Gaff after the first and set up shop inside her loose guard following the second. From there, Nunes let the punches and scorched-earth elbows fall, forcing Gaff to cover up and prompting the stoppage. “Lioness” was off and running in the UFC.
2. Confronting Mortality
An undefeated Cat Zingano took out Nunes with ground-and-pound from the full mount in the third round of their UFC 178 bantamweight showcase on Sept. 27, 2014 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Zingano drew the curtain on the Brazilian 1:21 into Round 2. Nunes emptied her gas tank in the first round, where she took down the former Ring of Fire champion and battered her with heavy, relentless ground-and-pound. Zingano weathered the assault and drew her counterpart into deeper waters. Nunes had nothing left for the second and third rounds. In the third, Zingano achieved full mount, opened a nasty gash on the side of the Brazilian’s head with a well-placed elbow and sealed it with unanswered blows from the top. Nunes has not lost since.
3. An Unexpected Coronation
The brilliance was blinding. Nunes became the fourth women’s bantamweight titleholder in Ultimate Fighting Championship history, as she shredded Miesha Tate with punches and then submitted her with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their UFC 200 headliner on July 9, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Tate tapped to the choke 3:16 into Round 1, her reign at the top over after four short months. Once Nunes trapped “Cupcake” on the feet, the fight was essentially over. She sent a series of straight punches crashing into Tate’s face, blood pouring from what appeared to be a broken nose. The Xtreme Couture rep retreated to the cage but found no refuge there, as Nunes continued the onslaught until Tate collapsed. The Brazilian then pounced with punches, slid to the back and cinched the choke. It was a rout in every sense of the word.
4. Getting Rowdy
In what could only be described as a massacre, Nunes obliterated Ronda Rousey to retain the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title in the UFC 207 main event on Dec. 30, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Rousey wilted 48 seconds into Round 1. Nunes picked apart the former champion with clean lefts and rights. Rousey was out on her feet before she knew what happened, and her attempts to clinch and recover proved unsuccessful. Nunes created some distance and let her hands go until referee Herb Dean moved in to wave it off. It was a merciful stoppage.
5. A Legacy Defined
Nunes made history at the expense of a fellow all-time great in the UFC 232 co-main event, and she did so in utterly spectacular fashion at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The American Top Team star blitzed Cristiane Justino with punches and leveled the Brazilian with one final overhand right behind the ear to claim the undisputed featherweight championship and become the first woman to hold UFC titles in two weight classes simultaneously. Nunes brought it to a close just 51 seconds into the first round, the result sending shockwaves through the MMA world. A left hook-right hook combination sent “Cyborg” into a tailspin from which she could not recover, as she suffered her first defeat since May 17, 2005.