The incredible backstory of Amanda Nunes ahead of UFC 289

From becoming the UFC’s first openly gay champion to clinching titles in two weight divisions – and even offering to fight KIM KARDASHIAN… Amanda Nunes is looking to make history again at UFC 289

  • Amanda Nunes will take on Irene Aldana in Saturday’s main event at UFC 289
  • The Brazilian is widely regarded as one of the best combat stars of all time 
  • Here, Mail Sport takes a look at Nunes’ accomplishments in and out the octagon 

This Saturday, Amanda Nunes and Irene Aldana will face off at UFC 289 in a bout for the women’s bantamweight title. 

Brazilian star Nunes will be looking to make another defence of her prestigious belt which – barring a brief spell at the start of 2022 – she has held since 2016.

The 35-year-old is an undisputed legend of combat sport, from her performances inside the octagon, but it’s also her actions outside that elevate her status.

The ‘Lioness’ became the UFC’s first openly gay champion when she claimed her first title in 2016 and has gone on to claim more impressive milestones since then.

And so, here, Mail Sport has taken a look back at the impressive legacy of Amanda Nunes.

UFC star Amanda Nunes is widely regarded as one of the best female combat stars in history

Nunes is seen as a trailblazer in the sport having become the UFC’s first openly gay champion 

She’ll put her bantamweight title on the line when she faces Irene Aldana (above) at UFC 289

Surprisingly, throughout her childhood, Nunes had no intentions on becoming a professional mixed-martial artist and, instead, wanted to be a football player. 

After starting out playing at her local team, she eventually got the opportunity to try out for Vitoria’s team but was forced to focus on studies instead by her family.

While her mother was keen on Nunes prioritising her education, there was also a keen interest in combat sports within the family. 

At the age of seven, Nunes was already involved in karate classes and had been under the tutelage of her mother. 

‘My mother used to box, and I followed her footsteps into training. She loves fighting. My uncle used to fight Vale Tudo, and my mother even cornered him in some of his fights,’ Nunes explained to MMA Fighting. 

After more than a decade practicing her skills, she began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and quickly elevated herself within the local fight community.

After success in numerous BJJ competitions, in 2007 Nunes opted to move to America and begin mixed-martial arts training – and she hasn’t looked back since.

The 35-year-old stormed through rival fighting organisations Strikeforce and Invicta before eventually arriving at the UFC in 2013.

She faced off with German star Sheila Gaff in her octagon debut and wasted little time in asserting her dominance, and recorded a first-round knockout win.

Nunes – pictured with her daughter Raegan Ann Nunes – has previously confessed that her first love was football, but she was made to quit her childhood team to focus on education

Despite her interests in other sports, the Brazilian (left) has gone on to become a renowned star in the combat sport world

Despite a slip-up in her third UFC fight, a TKO defeat to Cat Zingano, Nunes had a flawless record within Dana White’s organisation to kick-start her UFC career. 

And, after beating Valentina Shevchenko via unanimous decision in March 2016, the Brazilian star was already in-line for her first title shot. 

Only American bantamweight Miesha Tate stood between the ‘Lioness’ and UFC gold, and when the two fighters headlined UFC 200, there was only going to be one outcome.

The Brazilian produced a stunning performance and delivered a first-round knockout to claim her first title and dethrone the champion.

Her victory over Tate saw Nunes become the UFC’s first openly gay champion, which was a historic moment for the company and for combat sports as a whole. 

The Brazilian has been married to former UFC star Nina Nunes (maiden name Ansaroff) since 2019 but their relationship began years prior, when both were members of MMA Masters training gym.

They met shortly after Nunes’ move to the United States in 2007 and have enjoyed sharing each others respective journey’s throughout the UFC. 

‘I also feel like my relationship with Nina was crucial in my life,’ Nunes previously revealed to the UFC. 

‘She came into my life at the right moment, when I needed someone like her in my life. 

Amanda Nunes and former UFC star Nina Nunes (right) – née Ansaroff – have been married since 2019 

The Brazilian fighter insists that her partner is a ‘big part’ of her success within the UFC

The iconic combat sports couple confirmed they are expecting another child later this year

‘Since I met Nina, everything has gone great. We’re very happy, we really help each other grow, and really have each other’s back. She’s a big part of everything that has happened in my life.’

Nina competed in the UFC’s women’s strawweight division and boasted an 11-7 record before retiring in August last year. 

While her career didn’t quite the reach the heights that her partner’s did, together they have become one of the most iconic couples within the sport.  

Together they have one daughter, Raegan Ann Nunes, and have recently announced via their social media that they are expecting another.  

With Nina by her side, Nunes has gone from strength-to-strength inside the octagon and continued to dominate beyond her victory over Miesha Tate.

She followed up that win with impressive performances against Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko and Raquel Pennington before getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

After multiple defences of the bantamweight belt, she was scheduled to fight featherweight champion Cris Cyborg – who had only been defeated once in 21 outings before their clash.

Many had expected the fight to be a formality for Cyborg but, in actuality, Nunes produced a stunning knock-out in the first-round to become the first female double champion in the UFC.

‘She’s the greatest female fighter of all time and she’s one of the greatest mixed martial artists to ever live,’ UFC President Dana White said when asked about the two-division world champion. 

Nunes handed Cris Cyborg her only ever defeat in the UFC with an emphatic first-round KO

She became the UFC’s first female double champion after beating Cyborg in stunning fashion

‘Every G.O.A.T. is established through time and it’s not just who you beat, it’s how you beat them. 

‘If you look at who she’s beat, it’s a who’s who and you look at how she beat them – there aren’t a lot of women knocking other women out, but she knocks women out.’

White has always been a big admirer of Nunes and even brought the Brazilian’s name up when reflecting on the crossover bout between Floyd Mayweather and Logan Paul in 2021.

He said: ‘Think about this… imagine if Kim Kardashian wanted to fight Amanda Nunes. 

‘How big do you think that fight would be? It would be huge. It would be the biggest [event] but give me a f**king break.

‘You create this energy around a fight where you’re like “oh this [is exciting]” and then you watch it and then you turn the TV off and go “I just wasted another evening, I should have gone out and did something else.”‘

Nunes welcomed a bout with the TV star, tweeting: ‘Hey @KimKardashian let’s do this? lol’. The reality star never replied and, thus, the fight never occurred.

Nunes once offered reality TV star Kim Kardashian to have a fight, via a post on social media

Nunes even once took aim at influencer-turned-boxer Jake Paul after the internet star had a shot at company president White. 

Paul had called the UFC chief a ‘f****** p****’ online before White told TMZ: ‘I’m thinking of letting Amanda Nunes knock his ass out.’ 

While the bout never materialised, Nunes made her feelings on the fight clear, tweeting: ‘I’m in’.

For all that she’s achieved in her career, both inside and outside the octagon, a brutal knockout on the YouTuber would solidify her as a combat sport legend.

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