The MMA world left with jaws dropped, yet again, after Amanda Nunes claimed the undisputed gold strap by destroying Miesha Tate in the main-event of UFC 200.
Ever since Holly Holm’s massive upset over Ronda Rousey, the belt has since changed twice leaving no woman to successfully defend the championship. This was a bold prediction shared by the “Rowdy” one herself, back when she held UFC gold. A predication that is now hard to argue with.
Many have been left to question, what does this mean for the bantamweight division with Nunes now at the top?
Cat Zingano has beaten both Tate and Nunes before losing to Rousey. So this means Zingano has beaten a former champion and the current one. However, Zingano suffered her second professional loss to up-and-comer Julianna Pena at UFC 200.
As we know, Rousey ran through the division. She’s defeated Tate and Zingano, but eventually fell to “The Preacher’s Daughter,” Holly Holm at UFC 193 by a devastating kick to the head.
Holm would later lose the belt to Tate in a 5-round war and as stated above, Tate loss to Nunes.
This leaves Peña with no prior history with the women currently being slated for potential title opportunities; except those she has defeated.
So what this means is there is division full of equally-able women who can claim the belt at any given moment? But, who should get the next title shot?
Dana White has said multiple times that Rousey will fight whoever the champion is when she returns. With that date still unknown, Nunes could potentially defend the belt before Rousey returns to the Octagon. I personally think it should be Pena or Holm, depending on if Holm can get past Shevchenko at UFC Chicago. If Shevchenko pulls off the upset, she could easily put herself in the mix of worthy challengers to the new 135-pound Queen and diminish Holm’s chance at a second title shot.
Truthfully, the bantamweight bracket has never looked better. There are many women looking to fill the gap Rousey left back in November. UFC fans around the world are going to see women who are hungry for gold and others who are hungry to build and rebuild their legacies. Three women in particular: Holly Holm, Miesha Tate, and Cris Cyborg.
After a devastating first-round submission at UFC 200, Tate’s title defense became the quickest amongst the bantamweight division. The only fight that will bring Tate back in the hunt, is if she fights the most dominating female fighter at 145-pounds, Cris Cyborg. With Rousey getting her title shot upon her return and Holm’s fate dependent on her next fight, there would be no top contenders left, unless the UFC decides to book a rematch with Zingano.
Cyborg has been gunning for super fights at catchweight and if we are being honest, her match with Leslie Smith, wasn’t much of a super fight.
Cyborg immediately tweeted that she was not interested in fighting the newly crowed Brazilian champ after Nunes won the belt. It would be an interesting matchup, since Nunes was trained to be the fighter who would give Cyborg a run for her money in the Octagon. Cyborg needs to make a big statement, so what a better way than to take out the current champion of the UFC’s first women’s division?
Interestingly enough, White stated that if Rousey does not come back to fight in 2016, Holm could rise to the top of the list of challengers, depending on a win at UFC Chicago.
There are many woman who deserve a shot at Nunes, and with only two professional losses on her record, Pena proves a threat. Since signing with the UFC, she has remained undefeated. Since we can’t leave the champ waiting around for a contender, the only logical choice in the event Rousey pushes her return to 2017, is Pena.
If Nunes vs Pena is booked, this would be the first time a title fight at 135-pounds won’t feature a big name such as Rousey or Holm. It would truly be the turn of a new era in the bantamweight division.