Brazilian striker Amanda Nunes makes her UFC debut at UFC 163 in Brazil tonight. The 25-year old Nunes squares off against Sheila Gaff.
The AMA fight club product is known for her aggressive and powerful striking, and possesses rare power at 135lbs – power she’s not afraid to utilize. In Nunes’ most recent outings she was upset by Sarah D’Alelio, who used her own superior grappling skills to neutralize Nunes’ striking advantage.
Out of her 10 fights “The Lioness” has only tasted defeat three times, and all have been by talented grapplers. Outside of her three defeats, Nunes has shown the ability to string together powerful combinations. All of her victories have come via a finish. All but one of Nunes’ victories has come by KO or TKO. Her most notable victory comes over Strikeforce’s Julia Budd, who she knocked out in a mere 14 seconds of the first round. In that fight she showed her vicious speed and power and quickly put away Budd, and declared herself a threat to anyone at 135 pounds that chooses to stand with her.
With a win over Gaff, the Strikeforce and Invicta FC veteran can catapult herself up a currently-shallow women’s bantamweight division in the UFC. A win over Gaff could set up potential match-ups with Olympian Sara McMann, Liz Carmouche, Cat Zigano and Sarah Kaufman, or a rematch Alexis Davis – all of whom could be fighting for the title at any time.
With the exception of Zigano, the Lioness could have a clear striking advantage over every girl on the UFC’s roster, but that roster is also filed with talented grapplers. In order for Nunes to climb up the bantamweight rankings she will have to either keep the fight on the feet, or round out her style to negate the disadvantage she has on the ground.
Almost all the top bantamweights in the female division are grappling-based fighters. In her bout against D’Alelio, Nunes showed that her aggressive striking left her open for repeated double-leg takedowns while coming forward. In her loss to Davis, Nunes also showed that she can tie up in the clinch, and that she can tire in the later rounds. These are all areas in which the Brazilian striker can work on and evolve. She has the athletic attributes capable of quickly adding to her arsenal.
The smartest path to the title for Nunes involves fighting girls who would be willing to stand with her. Julie Kedzie, Germaine de Randamie, and Zigano are all striking-based fighters that would allow Nunes to utilize the blitzkrieg of strikes she throws at her opponents. Nunes’ has shown the power, speed, and striking ability to render anyone at bantamweight unconscious with a single punch.
Fighting girls like McMann or Carmouche could spell trouble for the Brazilian. Wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and cardio are not in Nunes’ A-game. She likes to end the fight early and violently. McMann and Carmouche are proven grapplers who are known to grind out fights with overwhelming top control.
Like everyone at 135 pounds, Nunes would have a grappling disadvantage against champ Ronda Rousey, the current champion. Likewise, Nunes would hold a clear advantage in power and striking.
If brought up the right way, Nunes could be a force in the women’s bantamweight division. Her power, athleticism, and aggressive style make her an exciting and dynamic fighter, which would surely make her a fan favorite.