UFC 239: Nunes vs. Holm – Preview
On what is set to arguably be the card of the year, from top to bottom, UFC 239 features a co-main event which could be the greatest women’s mixed martial arts contest of all time.
The women’s bantamweight division has been one of the most integral in terms of the development of not only women’s MMA, but also women’s sport.
There was once a time when UFC president Dana White claimed women would never fight in the promotion, however, that would all change in 2011. The UFC bought Strikeforce, and in turn picked up a plethora of elite fighters, one of which was about to become a mega star, called Ronda Rousey.
She would go on to become not only the inaugural women’s bantamweight world champion, but more importantly a sporting icon. She developed a flawless 12-0 record, and was deemed almost invincible by the general public; she was a cultural phenomenon, making waves in Hollywood, appearing on talk shows left, right, and centre and was about to headline the most attended UFC event of all time.
56,214 fight fans flooded into the Docklands stadium in Melbourne, Australia for UFC 193 to witness the great Rousey in person. Her opponent, Holly Holm, undefeated in her own right and an ex-boxing world champion irrespective of this, she was given little to no chance of upsetting the applecart.
Despite being perceived as a heavy underdog, Holm produced a stunning display. She outclassed Rousey in the striking department, and in a performance that shocked the world as she landed a magnificent head kick to dethrone Rousey, changing the landscape of the women’s bantamweight division.
Holm was then also on her own journey to superstardom, but unfortunately for her, it ground to a halt shortly after. In her first title defence, despite being up on the cards against Miesha Tate, she would find herself in a rear naked choke which she simply couldn’t break. Just like that, her reign had come to an end.
Following that defeat, Holm’s career would be full of ups and downs. She lost via decision to Valentina Shevchenko before being granted another world title fight. She went up to featherweight to fight for the first world title in that division for women. She was matched up against Germaine De Randamie, and lost a very controversial decision in which she was struck multiple times after the bell.
She returned to the win column with another trademark head kick against Bethe Correia. This resulted in a match up against Cris Cyborg, in her second shot at the featherweight belt. Holm ended up losing a close decision and moving back down to bantamweight.
She then put in a sublime performance against Megan Anderson, and was granted yet another title shot at bantamweight strap as a result. And in the opposite corner stands the two weight queen, Amanda Nunes.
After the victory against Holm, Miesha Tate would lose her belt against Amanda Nunes, in spectacular fashion. This was the start of a dominant reign for Nunes who as of right now is thought of as the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time.
Her first defence was set to be against the returning Ronda Rousey. All the marketing surrounding the belt was all Rousey oriented, somewhat unfairly to the Brazilian champion. Some felt the bantamweight division was about to come full circle, but this couldn’t have been further from reality.
Nunes annihilated Rousey in even worse fashion than Holm, and after an onslaught that was near painful to watch, the referee jumped in after less than a minute. Then, she edged past Valentina Shevchenko before demolishing Raquel Pennington.
It was then set she would step up to featherweight to take part in a Champion vs. Champion showdown against Cris Cyborg. Cyborg was ferocious, powerful and feared by most women, but her reputation unravelled as soon as Nunes landed her equally impressive bombs on Cyborg’s chin, and became the first two weight world champion in women’s history.
Nunes has beaten every woman to have ever held the belt at featherweight or bantamweight, except for one, Holly Holm. In one of the best matchups in the history of the sport, Amanda Nunes is looking to cement her legacy and leave no doubts as to who the greatest women’s MMA fighter of all time is, whereas Holm is looking to reclaim the throne she once had, and prove that her talent deserves more than one big night.