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UFC 289: Amanda Nunes Retires at the Peak, Leaving Behind a Legacy of Dominance

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

The Octagon witnessed an end of an era at UFC 289 on Saturday, June 10, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Amanda Nunes, the greatest women's fighter of all time, tearfully announced her retirement after a dominant performance, leaving a legacy marked by consecutive victories, broken records, and two UFC championship belts.

One of the most iconic figures in mixed martial arts (MMA), shocked her fans and the world by announcing her retirement in a post-fight interview. After successfully defending her title and tying with Anderson Silva's record, Nunes called for the cutman, placed her belts on the octagon mat, and announced, “Today, I just tied with Anderson Silva by defending the belt, Today! Forever Babe! I defended the belt. Tonight's a perfect time to retire and leave it happy forever!”

Nunes, visibly emotional, knelt down and paid homage to her career by placing her gloves between her belts, kissing both belts, and bowing in a child's pose resting her forehead on the mat, praying in thanks. Her baby daughter and partner, Nina Ansaroff, watched this heartfelt moment from the sidelines.

In an interview with Daniel Cormier, she opened up about the pressures her family, especially her mother and Nina, have faced throughout her career. Speaking about her decision to retire, Nunes explained, “I decided right now we only enjoy everything that I make. We gotta travel a bit with my family. I always had in my mind to become a champion and its been unbelievable…

"Double champion forever, I want to thank Dana (White) for always being there for me and everyone that’s making this show happen!" Nunes encouraged her fellow Brazilian fighters to carry on the legacy she's built, stating, “I come from this small city in Brazil… no one knows where it is, but I made it here. I became a champion and the only champion that Brazil has right now… so Brazilians fight! Get your shit together and come out and get the belts, alright! I believe in you!”

The evening had seen Nunes conquer the Octagon with a remarkable victory over Irene Aldana, securing her position as one of the most powerful forces in UFC history.

With a unanimous decision (50-43, 50-44, 50-44) over Aldana, Nunes defended her UFC women's bantamweight title. In addition, she holds the UFC women's featherweight championship, both titles she will vacate in retirement. Aldana was a replacement for the former champion, Julianna Peña, who was unable to compete due to injury.

In her decade-long UFC career, Nunes accumulated an impressive 16-2 record. In her final bout against Aldana, she out landed her opponent 142-41 in significant strikes, the most she's ever landed in a UFC fight. The fight underscored her prowess in the sport and solidified her legacy as a dominant champion.

When asked at the post-fight news conference about her legacy, Nunes declared, "The greatest of all time. I did everything. I broke a lot of records." She noted her plans to return to her native Brazil for a much-deserved break, following which she aims to transition into a coaching role at her South Florida gym, Lioness Studio.

While Nunes' retirement marks the end of an exceptional fighting career, it heralds a new beginning in her journey. She plans to share her extensive knowledge of the sport and help shape the next generation of fighters. “I love this sport. I have my gym, I have a couple girls there and I want to help them succeed as well. I have a lot to offer,” she said. “Me and my coach can work with girls and make them champions too. If I work with one girl I can make her a champion…I know everything about this game, the mental and how to be good at strategy, so we will make a strong team in the future. But right know we’re going to take a break and see my family in Brazil, and with Nina, she’s pregnant. And Nina was emotional in the hotel pre-fight and she told me she didn’t know if it was because she was pregnant but going through all the prep and fight-nite stuff that it was killing her. Nina’s retired but she’s in my camp too, but at the same time she’s always there for me. She made everything easy for me in my career. She prepared everything, talked to everybody…she really helped me chase the dream and be good at it. This is what made me good having a partner like that! Imagine we have a baby at home, she handles Reagan when I needed sleep. Not for me to worry.” So, for now, she plans to take a break and spend time with her family in Brazil, while also awaiting the birth of her partner Nina's baby.

Her departure leaves a void in the UFC, particularly in the women's featherweight division, which UFC president Dana White hinted would "probably" retire with Nunes. White expressed his happiness for Nunes, acknowledging her impact on the sport and her incredible professional journey.

“She looked incredible. Her performance was amazing. She completely shut Aldana down,” White said. “I think one of the guys was telling me that it was the most punches landed, she broke two records tonight. The most punches ever landed and she passed Sarah McMahon for takedowns…some more records for her and I’m not shocked that she retired. I’ve been saying for a while that she’s made a lot of money and her life is a lot different than it was 10 years ago.” White declared “Would I love for her to stick around and do more fights? Absolutely! I love the kid! She’s been incredible to work with. She’s such a good human being and a great champion and obviously the greatest female fighter of all time. I’d love to keep her around but if she’s ready to go then you gotta be happy for her.”

When asked about it her post-fight interview Nunes responded; “I just want to go and watch, I really don’t care, I beat all of them. So there’s nothing left, anybody can get this belt now, its just too heavy because I did everything in the division. The division is like your gone all of them I beat them all so I guess we gotta watch from the outside now. The UFC is the best company if they had someone to fight me at featherweight I would have fought, but they didn’t…we’ll see whats next for that division. I don’t need to come back because I will have my belts with me and who ever wins the next one that will be the fake one. Fake forever! And I proved it tonight so I could retire.”

During the interview Nunes laughed when a reporter said: “This may surprise you that Juliana Pena is quite angry that you retired” and then shook her head and rolled her eyes and jabbed ” what can I say about that girl? She was suppose to be the one I was suppose to fight tonight and beat again... She’s the one who doesn’t know how to train properly, breaking her ribs. What am I suppose to do? I already beat her if I had fought her tonight I wouldn’t have retired. I wanted to beat someone else to retire. It would have been I’ll beat Juliana again, then Aldana and then retire."

When asked if she thought Pena will get the title.. and how she felt about that? Nunes explained, "The division needs to move on, but I think Aldana is going to be a good one in the future…she’s gonna come back strong and she might get the belt. I'm excited to watch and see how the division plays out!" Then when asked if Pena would ever be champ again, Nunes shook her head again…."NO! I don’t think so! Aldana can beat her! She lost against me in our second fight, I don’t think she has it to be champion. She’s not ready to be champion."

Overall, Amanda Nunes' legacy in the sport of MMA is substantial. She's been a pioneer and a role model for many aspiring fighters. Her decision to retire leaves a huge gap in both the women's bantamweight and featherweight divisions. However, it also opens up opportunities for other fighters to rise and make their mark in the sport.

As Nunes has indicated, she's interested in nurturing and training the next generation of fighters, so her influence and impact on the sport will continue even in her retirement. Her legacy will be remembered not only for her dominant performances inside the octagon, but also for her impact outside the cage in the form of mentoring and training the upcoming generation.

Nunes' career is one that touched the heights of UFC history. Her 11 title fight wins tie her for the fourth-most in UFC history, regardless of gender, and her 10 finishes are the most in women's UFC history. She has defeated every other competitor who has held the UFC women's featherweight and bantamweight titles, marking her as an all-time great.

The retirement of Amanda Nunes, known for her indomitable spirit and unstoppable force in the Octagon, marks the end of a remarkable career and an era in the UFC. Her legacy of dominance, fierce competition, and record-breaking performances will live on. Yet while the future of women's MMA seems uncertain with her departure, it also offers opportunities for emerging fighters to make their mark. As Nunes has shown, it's not just about winning fights, but also inspiring and paving the way for future generations of fighters. Her influence and contributions to the sport are undeniable, and her legacy will continue to resonate in the world of MMA.


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