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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Not everybody was happy about the decision to move Saturday’s UFC 232 card from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on short-notice so that headliner Jon Jones would be able to fight.
But co-headliner Amanda Nunes wasn’t one of these people. In fact, despite that tweet about dealing with California’s increased taxes, “The Lioness” was actually pretty happy to hear that her 145-pound title bout with Cris Cyborg would be taking place elsewhere.
“When I was in Vegas, my sinusitis was pretty bad,” Nunes told reporters, including MMAjunkie, during a press conference at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. “The whole week, I look at (fiance and fellow UFC fighter Nina Ansaroff) like, ‘This is crazy. Again, no. We have to do something about that. We have to talk to USADA to see a medicine, because I can’t fight like that.’ My head was crazy.
“Then, when I wake up, the fight is going to move to L.A. I have to go to a better climate, you know? When I saw that, I say like ’Everything is in my favor.’ Even that. Like, move the whole card? This is amazing. And I was very happy.”
There were plenty of reasons for Nunes (17-4 MMA, 10-1 UFC) to be very happy. As far as those unexpected taxes go, for instance, we’re pretty sure the extra $50,000 she got for her “Performance of the Night” over Cyborg (20-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) in the pay-per-view featherweight title match can help soften the blow.
But, most importantly, Nunes won. Not only that, she won in devastating fashion, needing only 51 seconds to end Cyborg’s 13-year-long invincibility and take her 145-pound belt in the process. Nunes is now the third fighter in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously, after Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier, and the promotion’s first female champ-champ.
It was a massive feat in a massive fight. Which, at this point, has become pretty much another day at the office for the Brazilian.
Nunes was an underdog heading into a title fight with Miesha Tate, whom she submitted in the first round. Then, for her first defense, Nunes faced none other than MMA superstar Ronda Rousey, again as an underdog, this time needing only 48 seconds to get the job done.
In fact, the only person who’s been able to take Nunes to a decision in the four years since her last loss was Valentina Shevchenko, who now rules the UFC’s 125-pound division. Still, Nunes beat her – twice.
With so much conquered already, what can the 30-year-old fighter still do to add to her jaw-dropping resume?
“I think I’m going to fight Daniel Cormier now,” Nunes said in her native Portuguese.
Nunes was, of course, kidding. She is not looking to fight the UFC’s heavyweight champion. As a matter of fact, the champ-champ is not really aiming toward anyone at the moment. Saturday, she said, was her moment – and she wasn’t about to add any possible opponents to it, whether it was Shevchenko or even Cyborg, herself.
After what Nunes pulled off on Saturday, it’s hard to deny her that right. After all, she accomplished something no one had been able to do since Cyborg’s MMA debut, and in a way that very few people saw coming: By taking Cyborg’s notorious power and returning it.
For many of those who have seen the damage Cyborg is able to inflict on other women, it would seem like the strategy there would be to try to avoid contact with her hand. But that wasn’t how Nunes went about the clash. In fact, the strategy was to get Cyborg to “get crazy” and come forward, so she could land offense of her own.
The key moment of the co-headliner, Nunes said, was exactly when Cyborg landed those dangerous first few strikes.
“When she connected, that I felt it, I thought right away, ‘Now, I’m going to do my strategy because nothing stops me,’” Nunes said. “If her best punch didn’t stop me, nothing is going to stop me here now.”
Nunes was right. Thus, in less than one minute, ended a long, sometimes contentious promotion process.
Whatever friction existed between the two, however, seems to have been settled. Despite the crushing loss, Cyborg was all class addressing the media, giving props to her opponent as someone who had long deserved respect. And Nunes did the same, both talking to media and to Cyborg, herself, as the two hugged in the octagon.
“I told Cris that I have a lot of respect for her,” Nunes said. “For her work, for everything she did for the division. Everything she said throughout the road to the fight – for me, I’ve forgotten it. I’m not taking anything with me. What’s done is done. It’s all in the past.
“Our friendship, the respect I had for Cris remains. I wanted to tell her that. That it even helped to promote the fight in a way, because fans like it, too. But I made it very clear for her: I’ve forgotten everything. From now on, wherever I meet you, respect will prevail.”
Again, despite all she’d already done to convince doubters, Nunes saw herself as the underdog going up against Cyborg. It’s a good thing, then, that the champ-champ takes no issue with that position.
“It’s a huge push,” Nunes said. “Very big, very big. It helps me a lot, fighting like this. I like fighting like this, with people against me. That’s what strengthens me. Proving, to myself, that I can. Tonight, that’s what it was about: Proving to myself and to everyone, at the same time, that I’m the best in the world. The best of all time. That I went into history. And, from now on, that’s how it’s going to be. And whomever wants to be against me, so be it. That’s how I answer.”
Since she mentioned it… Is it safe to say that, after Saturday, Nunes sees herself as the greatest fighter in women’s MMA?
“Without a doubt, the greatest of all time,” Nunes said.
To hear Nunes’ full chat with reporters, check out the video above.
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