The Superfight: Amanda Nunes Vs Cris Cyborg

It’s been a fight a long time in the making, and finally, later this year, on the 29th December at UFC 232 in Las Vegas, the two champions are set to fight for Cyborg’s featherweight title in arguably the biggest fight women’s MMA has ever seen.

Cris Cyborg is a force to be reckoned with inside the Octagon and has remained undefeated since losing her professional debut fight way back in 2005, often finishing her opponents in a tornado of violence and aggression. The UFC featherweight champion holds a near-flawless record at 20-1 and is currently 5-0 in her UFC career with wins over Leslie Smith, Lina Lansberg, Tonya Evinger, Holly Holm and most recently, Yana Kunitskaya. Her 20 fight win-streak has cemented her as one of the pound-for-pound greats.

Fellow Brazilian, Amanda Nunes, trains out of the renowned American Top Team camp and also boasts a solid record of 16-4. The bantamweight champion dethroned Miesha Tate to win the belt and has since defeated Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko and Raquel Pennington. The victory against Pennington, in May 2018, marked Nunes’ 7th win in a row and her third consecutive title defence. She has become a dominant force in the bantamweight division in the UFC, however, she has not fought in the featherweight division at 145 pounds since 2011.

The two women have been on a collision course for some time now and, although the fight doesn’t have the same PPV pull as McGregor vs Khabib and the odds McGregor Khabib currently favour the Russian. It also doesn’t have the reputation that the potential bout between Cormier and Lesnar would have, but it is the only champion vs champion match-up the UFC currently has at its disposal.

Despite not being as high profile as the aforementioned fights, it is still a highly anticipated showdown between two extremely skilled athletes at the peak of their game. Given the lack of title challengers and indeed general lack of depth in both divisions, the fight was somewhat inevitable but for one reason or another hadn’t materialised until now.

Cyborg had attempted to convince the UFC and Nunes to move the fight forward to September, stating that the long lay-off since her March title defence win over Yana Kunitskaya as the main factor, but the promotion wasn’t interested in her pleas and went ahead and booked it on the stacked final card of the year.

On Brazilian show ’Combate News’ back in July, Cyborg gave her side of the delays in the super fight negotiation.

“Friday, last week, I talked to the UFC, and I said I wanted to fight, that I’m ready to fight,” Cyborg said. “I’ve been training, ready, and I want to fight. They offered me September, the 8 th in Dallas, to fight Amanda. I said that’s fine. I’ll fight. I’ve been training. I’m ready. A champion has to be ready all the time.

“Then on Monday they said (she) didn’t accept September 8 th . Then I said I wanted to fight anyway. I want to fight. I don’t want to be idle. And then Amanda sent the picture of the contract, saying she accepted the fight on December 29th .”

Cyborg has said she’s accepted this fight three times already but Nunes had declined.

“It’s the same as someone arriving at your house, knocking at your door and asking you to throw down, and then they say, ‘Wait, I need one year to prepare,’” Cyborg said.

“When you do that, you have to be ready for when the fight happens. But then to need six months to prepare, one year? I think it’s disrespectful toward me, to wait one year for a person to be ready. I have no problem with fighting Amanda on December 29 th . She wants time to be ready. But I believe I could fight before that, not wait all this time. I don’t think it’s right for the girls in Amanda’s division to wait one year to fight. I know that Ketlen Vieira, she deserves to fight for the belt. So if (Nunes) needs all this time to move up a weight class, heal her leg, whatever time she needs, then she should vacate the belt and do an interim belt so Vieira has her shot at the belt.”

Cyborg doesn’t have many fights remaining on her UFC contract and has talked about plans of trying to forge a career in boxing. The featherweight queen has also mentioned that Nunes might be her last fight in the Octagon.

Cyborg goes into the fight as favourite but Nunes has been in great form and her striking has never looked better, she will surely be the biggest test to date for Cyborg, who will have to be at her best to defend her strap. We find out who is the baddest woman on the planet in a few weeks’ time.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie