Amanda Nunes is confident she can beat Cat Zingano and Ronda Rousey.
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
When Amanda Nunes first arrived in Strikeforce in 2011, the word on the street was this Brazilian was the next big star in women’s MMA with all the talent in the world to beat the very best the 135-pound division had to offer. Only six fights into her career she already had beaten veterans like Vanessa Porto and Ediane Gomes, and the hype only got stronger when she debuted and promptly massacred Julia Budd with strikes in just 14 seconds.
Nunes’ fall back to earth wasn’t nearly as publicized as he meteoric rise because after falling by TKO to Alexis Davis in her second Strikeforce fight, the luster had been knocked off this once-proud prospect. Nunes went 1-1 in her next two fights before quietly moving over to the UFC when the 135-pound division was picked up following the demise of Strikeforce.
Since coming to the UFC, Nunes has started to pick up steam again as she’s made short work of both of her recent opponents inside the Octagon, and it’s a big part of the reason why she was offered a fight against Cat Zingano at UFC 178 in September — a bout that could very well determine the next No. 1 contender in the women’s bantamweight division.
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Zingano is returning from knee surgery that’s kept her out of action for the past year and Nunes is more than happy to welcome her back to the UFC, although she’s sure the Colorado-based fighter won’t enjoy the results.
"She’s going to try to take me down and hold me against the cage. I’m ready for everything that happens in this fight, but her strategy will be to come and take me down. After the first couple of punches, she’ll feel my power and she’ll come to take me down," Nunes told FOX Sports.
I’ll keep this fight standing for sure and if it goes to the ground, I’ll still finish her. I’m ready for every situation in this fight. I’m going to finish her.
— Amanda Nunes
"I’ll keep this fight standing for sure and if it goes to the ground, I’ll still finish her. I’m ready for every situation in this fight. I’m going to finish her."
Nunes knows that the discussion surrounding this fight will be about Zingano coming back to fighting after more than a year away and missing out on her opportunity to not only coach on "The Ultimate Fighter" opposite women’s champion Ronda Rousey, but also not being able to take the fight she earned after knocking out Miesha Tate in her UFC debut. Nunes is more than happy to let the media build up Zingano to an astronomical level before their fight because she says when she wins, the title shot and the fight with Rousey then go to her.
"This is the main thing: After this fight I think the UFC will give me the opportunity. After I beat Cat Zingano in this fight, I want to prove in this fight that I’m ready for Ronda," Nunes said.
While her focus remains on Zingano, Nunes isn’t afraid to speak her mind on Rousey whenever the subject comes up. Ask Nunes a point-blank question about Rousey and she’ll give you an unabashed answer; she’s not impressed.
"Her striking’s not very good. She knocked Alexis Davis out because she was lucky. I think she’s very good with her Judo throws and everything, but I’m ready for that. After this fight for sure I’ll start training for Ronda. If she comes to strike or if she goes on the ground, I can beat Ronda, too," Nunes said.
"I think keeping distance from her and don’t give her the opportunity to grab you. If you punch her very hard, she’ll give up. Move back and forth and throw a punch. By the end of the second round, she won’t have enough to keep it going and that’s my strategy and I’ll beat Ronda Rousey."
It’s been three years since Nunes was the most talked-about prospect in the women’s division, and she’s paid her dues plenty of times since then. Now with the best possible team behind her and a mountain of personal expectation guiding her journey, Nunes is ready to finally conquer the women’s division and prove the hype about her was right all along.
"I’m more focused, I’m at a great gym and I have everything I need to be a champion," Nunes said. "I think now I’m very experienced to be a champion. My style has changed a lot and I’m always trying to get better. This is my time. I want to prove it in this fight with Cat and after that, 100 percent, a title shot."