In 2018, the baddest woman on the planet was Cris Cyborg.
Sure, there were elite level fighters around her, but with years and years at the top, no one touched the Brazilian banger. Literally. Unbeaten since losing the first pro fight of her career in 2005, Cyborg’s streak of excellence was at 21 following her 2018 stoppage of Yana Santos (then Kunitskaya) and, to be frank, no one even came close to beating her.
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Along the way, she defeated the likes of Shayna Baszler, Gina Carano and Marloes Coenen, and when she arrived in the UFC, she won the vacant women’s featherweight title by stopping Tonya Evinger, then decisioned Holly Holm.
But it was after the Holm fight that Cyborg got called out…by women’s bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes.
Nunes had faced adversity in the UFC, even lost a 2014 bout to Cat Zingano, but following that setback, she ran off six straight wins that included two victories over Valentina Shevchenko and first-round finishes of Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey. If there was a women’s pound-for-pound list at that time, Cyborg and Nunes would likely be 1-2.
So, looking back, this seemed like a natural matchup. At the time, though, there was the sense that Nunes might be biting off more than she could chew, especially by moving up to 145 pounds. And when the making of the fight was delayed, Cyborg pounced.
“She called me out after the Holly Holm fight and I accepted right away,” said Cyborg at the time. “When you challenge somebody, you can’t ask for nine months to train. If somebody goes to your house now, locks the door and says, ‘I’m gonna kick your ass,’ are you gonna say, ‘Okay, wait, I have to do one hundred push-ups, I have to do bag work, I need to start running.’ No. You have to be ready to do this.”
Bonus Résumé | Amanda Nunes
Bonus Résumé | Amanda Nunes
Nunes didn’t take kindly to the barbs, sticking to her guns that she was ready for the 145-pound queen whenever a contract was put on the table.
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“I was the first girl to call out Cyborg because I want a challenge,” Nunes said. “When the idea came up between me, my coach and Nina (Nunes), I decided right away, let’s do it. It was something that was natural, and I know what I’m capable of. Why not try this? At that moment, I decided to call her out. I think other girls don’t do this because they might be scared of Cyborg or something like that, but I’m not. I’m a lioness.”
And on December 29, 2018 the SuperFight took place at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Here’s how I saw it that night:
Amanda Nunes made history in more ways than one at The Forum in Inglewood. With her stunning 51-second knockout of Cris Cyborg in the co-main event of UFC 232, Nunes became the first woman to hold UFC titles in two divisions, the third fighter to hold two titles simultaneously and the first fighter to beat her fellow Brazilian in over 13 years.
That’s one heck of a Saturday night for “The Lioness,” the UFC women’s bantamweight champion who now has a UFC women’s featherweight belt to put in her trophy case, along with a list of wins over Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Valentina Shevchenko.
Sounds like a Hall of Fame resume already, and if there are any doubters, they likely were silenced.
There was no feeling out process in this one, with Cyborg and Nunes getting after it immediately. But in the midst of the exchanges, Nunes proved to be the faster and more accurate striker, with right hands producing several flash knockdowns before a final right hand ended Cyborg’s night, with referee Marc Goddard stepping in to halt the fight 51 seconds into the fight.
Simply put, it was a shootout, and Nunes came out the winner. A brilliant effort by Nunes, and nothing for Cyborg to hang her head about. This was a case of two great fighters daring to be great against each other, and we were lucky to see it.