Amanda Nunes’ UFC 245 performance is proof the UFC did wrong by releasing Cris Cyborg

by Jordy McElroy

Two-division champion Amanda Nunes crossed off another opponent and caved in the sunken remains of viable contenders at 135 pounds. One thing was certain while watching The Lioness pound away on a fetaled up Germaine de Randamie at UFC 245 on Saturday night: The UFC sure could use Cris Cyborg right about now.

Do we even need to question who the baddest females on the planet are at this point?

Nunes’ first-round stoppage of Cyborg nearly a year ago shook the MMA community to its core in similar ways as Chris Weidman knocking out longtime middleweight champion Anderson Silva. It was the sort of surprise that forced you to pick your jaw off the ground three times before finally accepting what happened as reality.

I’d refrain from calling it a Buster Douglas moment because Nunes has proven to be far more than a one-hit wonder. She has gone on to steamroll former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm and de Randamie, the inaugural featherweight champ. The only potential blockbuster fight, aside from entertaining the Claressa Shields co-promotion circus attraction, would have been a rematch with Cyborg.

But that much-anticipated bout was wiped from existence the moment the UFC parted ways with Cyborg, leaving Bellator to swoop in and scoop up arguably the greatest women’s MMA fighter of all time. The UFC is now stuck in this weird place with Nunes parading around as a two-division champion for a featherweight division that barely even exists.

She has officially become the female version of Henry Cejudo.

Instead of receiving a legend’s treatment, Cyborg was buried by the UFC’s PR machine in an effort to prop up Nunes. She had one fight remaining on her contract after losing the title, and the UFC wasn’t going to risk her winning a rematch with the two sides at odds with one another.

So she was handed a throwaway bout against Felicia Spencer and shown the door. UFC President Dana White has made some disparaging comments regarding Cyborg’s personal appearance in the past, and those old wounds were never fully healed.

Throw in the lack of fight opportunities, along with the sluggish build of the featherweight division, and the marriage went to hell in a handbasket.

If cooler heads prevailed, perhaps fans would be wallowing in the hype of the greatest women’s championship rematch in MMA history rather than pipe-dreaming about cross-promotional bouts that make no sense.

Nunes only has five bantamweight title defenses, and she’s getting offered the sort of challenges that make it feel like she’s already cleaned out the division.

Let’s take the top-five bantamweight contenders for example: Nunes has already defeated de Randamie and Holly Holm; Ketlen Vieira is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Irene Aldana, and Aspen Ladd was knocked out by de Randamie back in July; Julianna Pena is 1-1 in the last three years with the loss coming to Valentina Shevchenko, who Nunes has already defeated twice.

Featherweight is a legitimate ghost division right now. So Nunes is basically a bantamweight champion carrying around another belt that doesn’t even matter.

If you don’t believe me, you can go to the UFC’s official rankings and scroll all the way down to see Nunes as the only name listed in the women’s featherweight division. The whole champ-champ thing is just for aesthetics.

How ironic that Cyborg was rushed out the door so that Nunes could take her place and eventually run into the same issues finding relevant competition. You know the division has hit rock bottom when the most exciting fight that can be made is against a multiple boxing world champion with no MMA experience.

Why build weight classes when you can cash in on a circus?