Аманда Нуньес счастлива. Прошло полгода с той самой ночи, когда «Львице» удалось сделать практически невозможное – нокаутировать Крис Сайборг за 51 секунду и завоевать пояс UFC во второй весовой категории.
Her status as the greatest woman in mixed martial arts history is pretty much cemented. She’s the only two-division champion among women in the UFC. She’s even nominated for an ESPY Award, the first MMA-specific “Best Fighter” along with Israel Adesanya, Henry Cejudo and Daniel Cormier, an honor she called “huge.”
One thing is making her sad, but it doesn’t have anything to do with fighting and even has its own silver lining.
“I’m very sad because Brazil was eliminated,” Nunes said, referencing Brazil’s Round of 16 loss to Japan in the World Cup. “But I’m a huge fan of the U.S. women’s soccer team. You can see I have the jersey. I’m very happy. My heart was in my stomach because the game (against Spain) was crazy, but the girls handled (it) very well, and I’m very proud and very happy. I can’t wait to see the finals.”
Essentially, life is good in the Nunes camp. At UFC 239, Nunes defends the bantamweight belt for the first time in more than a year against Holly Holm. The fight provides Nunes the opportunity to take down the last remaining former bantamweight champion, and naturally, she feels prepared and confident.
“I feel like my coach knows exactly everything Holly Holm is going to bring up,” Nunes said. “My coach is smart, I’m smart, and I know I’m going to be ready for her, see what she’s going to bring up to put into my game plan.”
Although Holm is one of the most respected strikers in the sport, her record since her world-flipping win over Ronda Rousey is just 2-4, including two failed bids for the featherweight belt. Even with that in mind, however, Nunes knows Holm is a “dangerous fighter” and vows she won’t underestimate her.
“I’m going to be very, very, very sharp and aware all the time, capitalize on every mistake she makes,” Nunes said. “She likes to kick very well. In my game, I do too. I like to kick. She has good boxing. I have good boxing.”
If this fight turns into a kickboxing match, despite how entertaining that would likely be for the fans, Nunes knows where she has the distinct advantage, and that’s on the mat.
“My wrestling, of course, is better than hers,” Nunes said. “My jiu-jitsu ground is better than hers. I feel like I’m a well-rounded fighter, and I feel like if this fight stays standing up, our styles match, but if I decide to change it, go to the ground, use my wrestling, everything is going to be completely different for her.”
Should Nunes successfully defend the 135-pound title, she said her focus shifts to defending the featherweight belt. If both fights go her way, she would join Cormier as the second double-champion to successfully defend both belts.
“I love this moment,” Nunes said. “I can’t wait to step into the cage and do my work.”
Bantamweight champion. Featherweight champion. ESPY nominee. Surefire hall of famer. Likely GOAT-status. Amanda Nunes has every reason to enjoy life as Amanda Nunes right now.
“I feel like I dreamed all those things to be happy in my life,” she said. “Now, I’m here doing the thing that I love, doing the thing that I worked for, and I kind of want to keep doing it. It’s so fun. I’m happy. I accomplished everything that I want in my career and, for now, I just want to leave everything (alone) and enjoy every single moment. I’m very happy.”
It’s not hard to foresee Nunes adding more accolades to her decorated resume, although it is a little hard to come up with more accomplishments to check off a list.
When talking about life after fighting, Nunes wondered aloud if she’ll stay involved with MMA or focus on running soccer tournaments for the rich talent pool in Brazil. Quickly, though, she snapped her thoughts back to present day and her matchup with Holm. Given all the good things happening in her life, refocusing on the moment is rather enjoyable, and Nunes is savoring what she has right now.
“I’m going to keep seeing where life is going to take me,” she said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Zac Pacleb is a writer and producer for UFC.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ZacPacleb.