The Lioness continues to rule her kingdom.
Amanda Nunes won her eleventh consecutive fight at UFC 250, successfully defending her Featherweight Championship against an overmatched Felicia Spencer.
Nunes (20-4) used this main event, marquee matchup as a glorified sparring session, and Spencer (8-2) never presented a serious threat to the champ. The most impressive part of Spencer’s performance was her ability to withstand nonstop punishment.
“I know she’s tough, and I knew I needed to be sharp to go five rounds,” said Nunes. “[But] when she connected her first punch on me, I knew she was never going to knock me out.”
As both Featherweight and Bantamweight Champion, Nunes’ victory extends her reign of terror over two divisions. She controlled the fight with takedowns and ground-and-pound, and there would have been no argument had there been a referee stoppage as early as the third round.
Nunes has been so dominant that she has cleared out all credible challengers in both the featherweight and bantamweight divisions. The UFC now has a real problem with no legitimate threats for Nunes.
“My goal was defending my two belts at the same time,” said Nunes. “I’m so happy right now, but I don’t know what’s next.”
On a night when Conor McGregor retired (again), UFC 250 also showed its a good time to be in the Sean O’Malley business. The night opened with O’Malley (12-0) knocking out Eddie Wineland with a ferocious right hand. Wineland (24-14-1) bit on a left jab fake by O’Malley, then met his fate with the KO punch.
“I expected a walk-off knockout,” said O’Malley, who should find himself ranked after that performance. “This shows I am as good as I say I am. I’m high-level, and I think people are really starting to see that.”
The second fight of the card was a showcase for Neil Magny in his welterweight victory against Anthony Rocco Martin. Magny (23-7) won by unanimous decision, though it appeared to the naked eye that Martin (17-6) controlled the opening round, and he certainly remained competitive in round two.
“That fight was a little too close for comfort for me,” said Magny. “I started off way too slow trying to figure out Rocco’s timing, and he kind of threw me off a bit. But as the fight went on, I started to find my range and my game plan. I wish I got that started sooner, but it was a good learning experience for me.”
The fight, which was Martin’s last under his current UFC contract, almost did not take place. Magny missed the official UFC Media Day on Thursday after he was forced to isolate himself after coming into contact with a potential carrier of COVID-19.
“Because of that contact, I had to take precautions to not spread anything to other fighters until the test results came back,” said Magny. “And it was negative.”
Another phenomenal performance took place during Aljamain Sterling’s submission victory against Cory Sandhagen.
Sterling (19-3) punched his ticket for a shot at the Bantamweight Championship by way of an 88-second clinic against Sandhagen (12-2), who had never been finished before in his career until tapping in the opening round to the rear naked choke.
“We’ve got a lot going on in this country,” Sterling said after the victory. “It’s a great country, but there are a lot of things that need to be changed, especially the injustices happening to minorities all across America. This one was for everybody back home fighting the good fight, protesting, I support you guys. I’m with you guys all the way.”
With the win, Sterling is set to challenge the winner of Jose Aldo-Petr Yan, a fight that will crown the next Bantamweight champ.
“I don’t really care who wins,” said Sterling. “They’re both great competitors, I’m a great competitor myself, and I’m looking to put a stamp on either one.”
For the first time since December of 2016, Cody Gerbrandt returned to the win column with a victory against Raphael Assunção, and he did it with flair. Gerbrandt (12-3) delivered the knockout of the year with his right hook on Assunção (27-8), which connected moments before the end of the second round.
“I knew he was going to come in,” said Garbrandt. “I needed him to come in just a little bit more, and I knew the right hand would land. Inside shots, those are my money-makers.”
The victory instantly elevates Gerbrandt back into title contention. He was quick, technical, and strong, and he lured in Assunção for the knockout blow.
“I want to be the best in the world like I once was,” said Gerbrandt. “Just keep climbing and get that title shot. That’s what I’m here for, to be the best [and] get that championship strap back.”
UFC 250 was a temperature-check card, and O’Malley, Magny, Sterling, and Gerbrandt all used their fights as a proving ground. As for the main event, Nunes left no doubt to her status as the best in the world. The only question is what she will do next. With no challengers on the horizon, perhaps there will be a trilogy fight with Valentina Shevchenko, though Nunes has already won the first two meetings.
Having mauled the competition, Nunes has run out of opponents. She currently has no peers, leaving her in rarified air the most dominant woman to ever step foot into the Octagon.