Ronda Rousey was the first UFC women’s bantamweight champion, but Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Amanda Nunes may have started her journey to become the longest reigning titleholder ever, as she knocked Rousey out in under a minute, notching the first successful defense of the title she won in July.
“Before I walked out, we (Nunes and her team) talked, and this moment was my moment,” Brazil’s Nunes said. “She (Rousey) had her time, she did a lot for the sport. I thank Ronda Rousey. But right now, I showed I’m the champion and I’m here to stay.”
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Backstage interviews: Amanda Nunes | Cody Garbrandt | Dominick Cruz | TJ Dillashaw | Ray Borg | Neil Magny | Tim Means
Octagon interviews: Amanda Nunes | Cody Garbrandt
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With the win, which lifted her record to 14-4, the 28-year-old Nunes becomes the first fighter to successfully defend the women’s 135-pound title since Rousey did it against Bethe Correia in August of 2015. A little over three months later, Rousey lost the belt via knockout to Holly Holm, who lost the title to Miesha Tate, who was dethroned by Nunes.
In that space of time, Rousey was absent from the Octagon, with her return Friday after 13 months away becoming the biggest story of 2016. But it was Nunes’ night from the start, as she began tagging Rousey as soon as the bout began. And the Bahia native never let up, with a hard right hand 11 seconds in staggering the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist. Rousey tried to weather the storm with a pair of kicks to keep Nunes at bay, but “The Lioness” walked through the shots, and as she got Rousey to the fence, the flush blows kept coming, with a final right hand on the bloodied former champion bringing in referee Herb Dean to stop the fight at the 48-second mark of the opening round.
“I really trained very hard, I’m a dedicated fighter and I have my team behind me,” Nunes said. “They’ve made me an amazing fighter. It’s unbelievable how American Top Team put me on another level.”
With the loss, the 29-year-old Rousey drops to 12-2.