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Editorial: 2021 New year’s fight resolutions - Amanda Nunes edition

Amanda Nunes may or may be done with MMA. But her legacy isn’t.

UFC 250: Nunes vs Spencer Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

It was a quiet year for the UFC’s reigning bantamweight and featherweight champion, Amanda Nunes. Well, at least in the cage. She had just one fight for the 2020 calendar year. It was a decision win over Felicia Spencer. The fight itself was a foregone conclusion, but it ended up serving as a testament to three things: Spencer’s toughness, Nunes’ dominance, and UFC officials being completely uninterested in making tough decisions (that fight should have been stopped).

It’s a little ironic. Despite the general peace and quiet for Nunes, a lot has happened. There are questions, whispers, and concerns about Nunes retiring. There are questions about the future of female featherweight. There’s this Jake Paul nonsense. It’s a lot. Maybe too much. And that’s why, with Nunes having nothing left to prove, 2021 could do without Nunes. Her wife gave birth in 2020, she’s set to co-star in a Halle Berry movie, so why not let her take that walk off into the sunset? Minus the desert robot cannibals, of course.

Don’t let Megan Anderson be the reason Nunes stays

There’s no way to say this quiet. Directly after scoring a first-round knockout over Norma Dumont, Megan Anderson exclaimed that “I’m the only featherweight that is on a win streak, so let’s f—ng go.”

To which one of our eager commentators replied “I’m the only featherweight that is on a win streak , so let’s f—ng go.”

It’s harsh but true. A win streak is nice, but when we think of ‘streaks’ we think of Alex Ovechkin scoring a hat trick; not getting on the scoreboard because the goaltender accidentally moved past the goal line with the puck atop his butt pads. So two wins is nice, but we’re talking about two wins following a loss to Felicia Spencer. It’s easy to be sympathetic to Anderson. The division itself was always built around Cris Cyborg. Anderson knows how tenuous the division is. And yes, on March 6th, this fight will happen at UFC 259 regardless. My point is that if this bout is sidelined by an injury, this is not the fight to keep Nunes invested in the sport. Anderson hasn’t accomplished enough to earn it. And while it’s all the UFC’s got, my argument is not that this is a bad fight. On the contrary, I think it should be good. My argument is ‘don’t keep fighters in the dark.’ Either develop a plan to build featherweight up, and create a future for it, or don’t.

Don’t let Jake Paul be the reason Nunes leaves

I’ll keep this short. Until Jake Paul started calling out a bunch of professional fighters after earning his fight cred by knocking out YouTubers and NBA players, I had no idea who he was. I knew about his brother from the trailer for this hyper generic sci-fi movie. So to learn more, I avoided whatever he said about Nunes. I skimmed through the manufactured Conor McGregor drama. And I decided to let my instincts guide me. Dear Amanda — don’t do what I did. Don’t bring the human manifestation of Peaked in High School into your life.

Find the next bantamweight torch bearer

I’ve been talking about Nunes as if she’s already gone. I’m just trying to capture my thoughts in the context of what answers 2021 will ultimately give us. In truth, I think Nunes walking away is a good thing. She’s given everything she has to the sport for thirteen years. She’s been unbeaten in the UFC for the last six years.

What more is there? A perfunctory title defense against a 3-2 fighter in a division that doesn’t even exist? A rematch versus a cadre of women she’s already beat? A superfight against a champ she’s never lost to? If Nunes keeps fighting, win or lose, her status will remain. A lot of fighters look up to her, so if she hangs up the gloves, more power to her. If she doesn’t, more power to her.