Sunday, January 01, 2017

Big Bad Blog Fighter Of The Year-Amanda Nunes

Happy new year! Once again it is time to name my fighter of the year. And for 2016, that will be UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes. Though she is just now getting noticed by fans and the media, I was probably the first to notice her and I interviewed her for the blog. Though Amanda has had some bumps in the road, her ascent since joining American Top Team is not surprising to me as I always thought she had it in her. Amanda was born May 30, 1988 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Her mother had Amanda and her sister take karate class to keep them busy. But as a teen, Amanda got into more serious training in Brazilian jiu jitsu and boxing. She holds a black belt in BJJ and a brown belt in judo. Though she lost her 1988 MMA debut, she started having success including a 2009 win over veteran fighter Vanessa Porto. That got my attention and when Amanda's next fight was streamed on Sherdog, I decided to check her out. She won over veteran fighter Ediane Gomes by second round TKO. That got Strikeforce's attention and she was brought to the US. At first she lived in New Jersey and trained at AMA Fight Club. Then in her Strikeforce debut, she TKOd Julia Budd in 14 seconds. That created a buzz. But in her next fight, Alexis Davis beat Amanda by second round TKO. Amanda won the first round but wound up on the bottom after initiating a takedown. Before she could fight again for Strikeforce, the UFC took it over and Amanda was not retained. She moved to MMA Masters in Miami and she went 1-1 for Invicta. But it was at this time that she met fellow UFC fighter Nina Ansaroff. Nina brought Amanda to American Top Team and the two are currently in a relationship. Amanda signed with the UFC and won her first two fights. But her next fight against Cat Zingano gave us her strengths and weaknesses in a nutshell. After almost finishing Cat in round one, Amanda ran out of gas in round three and Cat won by TKO. Since then Amanda has been on a tear including winning the title over Miesha Tate and defending it on Friday night against Ronda Rousey. Endurance is still an issue. In her March fight against Valentina Shevchenko, Amanda won the first two rounds easily and almost lost in round three when she ran out of gas. Her likely next challenger will be the winner of Julianna Pena vs Valentina Shevchenko. I like that Amanda is a finisher. But her endurance is still a question mark that may need to be answered in a five round title defense. If ATT coach and former UFC fighter and WEC champ Mike Brown can solve that riddle, Amanda could be a dominant champ. But for now, she has had a great 2016 and I'm glad I got to see her when no one knew about her. Congratulations to Amanda Nunes.

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