Bantamweight Champion Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes (21-4)
The Bantamweight division will always run through its champion, Amanda Nunes (21-4).
The #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, Amanda is on a run no other woman in the UFC has come close to.
Currently, on a 12 fight winning streak, the longest in UFC Women’s history, Amanda is looking for a new (or old) challenger to defend her Bantamweight belt.
Since the last time we have seen her fight in the bantamweight division in 2019, we have seen promising contenders emerge from the field in Aspen Ladd (9-1), Julianna Pena (10-4), Irene Aldana (12-6), and Yana Kunitskaya (14-5).
"I'm more dangerous now with my little girl, so nobody's going to stop me. I am going to retire undefeated."
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 7, 2021
Unfortunately for them, The Lioness is as strong as ever.
In her featherweight title defense against Felicia Spencer (8-2), Nunes displayed great pace throughout the fight, dominating every exchange, whether on the feet or the ground.
Similarly to her Felicia Spencer title defense, Amanda reminded the MMA world why she is feared in the octagon with her powerful and overbearing ground game, resulting in an Inverted Triangle Armbar win against Megan Anderson (10-4) at UFC 259.
With Amanda wanting to get back in the octagon in the next couple of months, we look forward to seeing which opponents have the chance of taking her belt.
Flyweight Champion: Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko (20-3)
Aside from her early career losses, Nunes’ toughest opponent is, without a doubt, Valentina Schevchenko.
Taking away her two losses to Amanda, Valentina is undefeated in the UFC (9-0).
Shevchenko, like Nunes, is head over heels over her flyweight contenders. And like Nunes, Shevchenko’s fighting style is not only powered by her strength and brute force but her quickness and ground game.
Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) is still your UFC women's flyweight queen, tyrannizing Katlyn Chookagian en route to a third-round TKO in her third title defense. Only Amanda Nunes can test her. #UFC247 pic.twitter.com/Sp0ihFgP99
— Kyle Johnson (@VonPreux) February 9, 2020
When Valentina feels pressure, she makes diamonds.
Shevchenko’s biggest strength is her mid-round adjustments, easing her opponents into a rhythm, then displaying something completely different from the first few minutes.
As her opponents give her an inch, Valentina viciously takes one foot, leaving her opponents questioning what even happened.
This was apparent in her most recent fight against Jennifer Maia (18-7-1), where she put her nickname to the test against Maia.
Bullets, bombs, and mayhem ran rampant against Maia’s equilibrium, consistently stunning her throughout the 25-minute domination.
While many people believe that Shevchenko is the only person who offers a chance to win against Amanda Nunes, Valentina will have to defend her own flyweight belt. She is facing the powerful flyweight title challenger Jessica Andrade soon.
Next Opponent: Flyweight #1 Contender Jessica Andrade (21-8) at UFC 261 on April 24th.
Bantamweight #1 Contender: Germain “The Iron Lady” de Randamie (10-4)
GDR wants one last run at Nunes.
Former featherweight champion, The Iron Lady is ready for her trilogy fight with Amanda.
Like Valentina Shevchenko, De Randamie’s lone UFC losses come at Nunes’s hand (7-2). This time, however, she believes she has something up her sleeve.
— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) October 4, 2020
In her most recent fight against Julianna Pena, we witnessed how deadly GDR’s submission attempts are.
When her opponents make a mistake, De Randamie shows no mercy and quickly puts her prey down.
Her Guillotine choke win against Pena is a good indication of what Germaine will focus on in her next fight with Nunes.
Nunes’s gameplan was simple in their second fight: eliminate GDR’s standup by controlling her on the ground.
While Amanda was successful in the fight, securing a unanimous decision win, we now know what will happen if Amanda feels threatened in the stand-up.
With that said, The distinguishing factor about Germaine de Randamie’s game is her stand-up.
46-0 in Muay Thai and K1, She is an assassin who lands with precision and never lets up on her opposition.
Speed kills; it desecrates.
GDR’s stand-up is poetry in motion because of the fluidity she has through every movement.
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) October 8, 2020
Germaine has been vocal about feeling that she has accomplished everything there is to do in MMA, aside from beating Amanda Nunes.
She has bet on herself that she will retire from the UFC if she cannot beat the bantamweight division champion, Amanda Nunes.
I believe de Randamie will fight Amanda at the end of the year or the beginning of 2022, depending on if she chooses to fight Valentina Shevchenko first. In the meantime, Germaine should stay ready and fight another contender to stay ready for Amanda.
Next Potential Opponent: #2 Holly Holm (14-5)
Bantamweight #6 Contender: Julianna “The Venezuelan Vixen” Pena (10-4)
Has there been anyone in the UFC bolder than Julianna Pena?
What may seem like a deathwish to many, Pena yearns for the opportunity to beat Nunes.
Julianna is a warrior prepared for any fight coming her way. She is well-rounded in all facets and persistently desires war from anyone who wants it.
Consequently, after her win against #8 Contender Sara McCann (12-6) at UFC 257, Pena explained why she’s up next for a title shot in her post-fight interview.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 24, 2021
Throughout Pena’s career, Julianna earned wins against seven noteworthy fighters in the bantamweight division.
She is one of the few fighters in the bantamweight division to fight against Valentina Schevchenko (20-3), and contrary to revisionist history, Julianna was on her way to a unanimous decision win against Germaine de Randemie (10-4) before succumbing to a guillotine choke late in the fight.
Gritty, technical, and stout, Pena is always on the prowl as if she is hunting down her next meal. Pena takes her opponents’ strengths away from them, as she makes it an emphasis to have her opponents fight off their back foot constantly.
The Venezuelan Vixen!
🇻🇪 @VenezuelanVixen secures the RNC on Fight Island.
— UFC (@ufc) January 24, 2021
As we have seen in moments of Julianna’s most recent fights with GDR and McCann, nothing deters her from her gameplan.
It is not a matter of if, but when she decides to take her opponent to the ground.
Pena offers excitement and intrigue to the Bantamweight division, as we haven’t seen her fight Amanda yet, and she is constantly calling for a fight with her.
With the cancellation of her fight with Holly Holm due to her opponent’s injury, Pena’s timeline is starting to match the same time Amanda Nunes wants to fight next.
Next Potential Opponent: #3 Aspen Ladd (9-1)
The inevitable trilogy fight with Shevchenko and Nunes is now in the immediate future but will have to wait till both fighters defend their own belts, respectively.
Germaine de Randamie is the clear-cut number one contender in the division, with wins over Holm, Ladd, and Pena.
Unfortunately for Germaine, she is in a weird place.
Since this would be their trilogy fight, Nunes’ appeal to fight GDR in the summer may not be as enticing as GDR would’ve hoped.
De Randamie can choose to either stay active and fight Holly Holm or Irene Aldana for her title shot or wait for Amanda to choose to fight her later this year.
But we all know the waiting game can be deadly in the UFC, especially for a 36-year-old fighter.
It is most likely that Nunes wants to fight someone new, in Julianna Pena.
However, Pena needs to feel worthy enough to earn a title shot. A title elimination bout between her and Aspen Ladd would clarify who will fight Amanda next.
With that said, when Nunes wants to fight, the fight will happen.
She can choose many fighters from Aspen Ladd, Julianna Pena, Holly Holm, and Germain de Randemie. Nevertheless, it seems like Pena is the only contender who is ready to fight on such short notice (In May).
Ultimately, Amanda will always have the final say on the Bantamweight division with being the Queen of the division.
She will decide who she thinks is worthy and gets her motivated to fight.