It’s been a few days! The noise and chaos have ceased. The congestion in the Serengeti has cleared. I see a few animals in the field. One species is just awe-inspiring. Here’s what Ant Irwin is seeing…
Let’s face it…Ultimate Fighting Championship has seen its share of trailblazers.
Hall of Famer Randy “The Natural” Couture became the first fighter to reign as champion over two divisions (heavyweight and light heavyweight). How? First, he defeated Maurice Smith at UFC 15.5 to become the UFC heavyweight champion. Fast forward to UFC 44! Couture defeated Tito Ortiz and became the light heavyweight champion.
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, along with Liz “The Girl-Rilla” Carmouche, collaborated to break down the gender barrier at UFC 157. The two put on the company’s inaugural women’s bout, which was for the women’s bantamweight title. Rousey retained after overcoming a scare and submitting Carmouche via armbar. Rousey defended her title six times.
“The Notorious” Conor McGregor revolutionized the two-division champion game. First, he only needed 0:13 to turn back Jose Aldo to become featherweight champion at UFC 194. Fast forward to UFC 205! McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez to become the lightweight champion. He became the first-ever simultaneous two-division champion.
As great as these feats are, they were repeated.
Species One: Two-Division Champions
B.J. Penn became a two-division champion. His first title came via victory over Matt Hughes at UFC 43 to become the welterweight champion. The second came from besting Joe Stevenson at UFC 80 lightweight championships. Penn lost those titles! He would become a two-time lightweight champion.
George St. Pierre obtained the welterweight champion with a UFC 65 victory over Matt Hughes. St. Pierre defended his title 10 times. Afterward, he went on a sabbatical. Eventually, he returned and beat Michael Bisping to become the UFC middleweight champion at UFC 217.
Species Two: Champ-Champs
At UFC 220, Daniel “DC” Cormier reclaimed the UFC light heavyweight championship a third time by defeating Volkan Oezdemir. At UFC 226, Cormier finished Stipe Miocic, becoming the company’s second “Champ-Champ”.
Henry Cejudo possesses arguably one of the most amazing three-fight runs in UFC and MMA history. First, at UFC 227, he dethroned Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson as flyweight champion. Fast forward to the inaugural card of the ESPN era! Cejudo saved the division, finishing former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in just 0:32. Dillashaw tested positive for PEDs and had to relinquish his title. Then, Cejudo KO’d Marlon Moraes at UFC 238 to join the likes of McGregor and Cormier as “Champ-Champ”.
As great at these accomplishments are, where’s the rarity? Couture, St. Pierre, and Penn have never held simultaneous championships. McGregor has been a Champ-Champ for UFC and Cage Warriors…no title defenses. Cormier and Cejudo have defended two division titles at different times. Nooooow…this is where the aforementioned rare breed comes into play.
Remember the mention of these achievements being redefined? It’s just materialized. This is courtesy of women’s bantamweight and featherweight Amanda Nunes. Beating Felicia Spencer makes Nunes the only champion in UFC history to defend two belts as a double champion. Nunes has six title defenses and 11 consecutive wins in two divisions.
Nunes’ wins include:
- Julia Budd (former Bellator women’s featherweight champion)
- Alexis Davis
- Germaine De Randamie (2x)
- Shayna Baszler (current WWE women’s superstar)
- Sara McMann
- Valentina Shevchenko (2x, current UFC women’s flyweight champion)
- Raquel Pennington
- Cris Cyborg (Former UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta Featherweight Champion; current Bellator Featherweight Champion)
- Holly Holm (Former UFC Bantamweight Champion, 18x boxing champion)
- Felicia Spencer
- Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey; resulting in Nunes capturing the bantamweight championship, securing her first title defense against Rousey, and retiring both in successive fights.
As if this isn’t enough, Nunes is prime to set the bar even higher. How? This is due to the difficulty the UFC and MMA have in finding regularly active women featherweight fighters. Nunes can easily transition between divisions to defend both belts beyond her present defense streak.
What’s next for Nunes…who knows? Male or female, Nunes is a legitimate MMA G.O.A.T. I’m as comfortable with my stance as the Queen of the Jungle is upon her throne.