Amanda Always Starting Fast
As Amanda Nunes made the walk for the absolute biggest fight of her life at UFC 200, the sceptics eagerly awaited her answers to their many, many questions. On that night Nunes would take on the recently crowned champion Miesha Tate in the main event of the evening.
It wasn’t always meant to be the main event either but a Jon Jones drug test failure had elevated it to that spot and in doing so had added another question mark surrounding Nunes’ upcoming performance. Many wondered how the challenger would handle the tremendous occasion, especially against such an experienced fighter.
The main question surrounding Nunes though was how she would respond if, and in the mind of many when, Tate weathered the storm and took the fight into the championship rounds. The doubts were understandable as many correctly pointed to the way Nunes had seemingly faded in her final win before the title opportunity against Valentina Shevchenko.
Cat Zingano defeat
Another example was her dramatic 2014 defeat to Cat Zingano, a fight she had started spectacularly in before it quickly slipped through her fingers. It’s undeniable that there was clear evidence that Nunes would tire severely when her opponent made it out of the first round, and more times than not it would end in her defeat.
Heading into the first 25-minute fight of her career and considering all of the anxiety that had surely come with it, Nunes’ apparent stamina issues were fairly one of the main focuses of the title bout. What was less discussed though was the positive side of Nunes’ trademark early aggression and the way it had led to her quickly brutalising Sara McMann, Shayna Baszler, Julia Budd and others.
On fight night, it was that part of Nunes’ game that became immediately apparent as the Brazilian contender used her impressive hand speed to stun Tate badly early. After all of the questions of how she would handle the occasion, Nunes behaved in the manner she has always been most comfortable and simply followed her instincts.
Rather than worrying or even thinking about her gas tank, Nunes trusted her power and chased the finish, applying tremendous pressure to the rocked champion. There was a confident swagger about Nunes aggression too, a visible belief in the bad intentions she threw with every strike. It was clear very quickly that, against all odds, it was just a matter of time.
Nunes UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion
In the end, the marauding pressure was too much for the usually durable Tate and she succumbed to a rear-naked choke in the very first round. In a fashion befitting of her career up to that point, Amanda Nunes had become the UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion, vanquishing a proven pioneer all in just over three minutes. Though the win had been as dominant as possible, the pre-fight questions still do remain about Nunes stamina.
However, as she heads into her first title defence against returning superstar Ronda Rousey, it’s important that we remember the violent aspect of the trademark Nunes fast start. In fairness, Rousey has also made a career out of finishing fights early which makes her the perfect dance partner for the new champion.
Amanda Nunes isn’t a perfect fighter but what she does well she does with violent effectiveness and that is and will continue to be enough to finish most fighters on earth. Though definitely flawed, it’s Nunes feared ferocity that has got her to this point, the question now is whether or not it will be enough to keep her the belt.
For more please follow me @joehulbert5 on Twitter.
Image courtesy of foxsports.com