Yahoo Sports Female MMA Fighter of the Decade

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Yahoo Sports

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Amanda Nunes not only won 15 of her 18 MMA bouts during the decade, she finished 11 of them. She not only defeated the greatest women’s fighters in the history of the UFC — Ronda RouseyMiesha TateHolly HolmCris “Cyborg” Justino and Valentina Shevchenko — she’s beaten all of them in succession. On top of that, she added a win over Julia Budd, who is now the Bellator featherweight champion.

She not only fulfilled the greatness that was predicted for her at the dawn of the decade, but she’s widely known as the greatest women’s mixed martial artist in history.

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She did it emphatically, powerfully and impressively. She battered Tate, breaking her nose before submitting her at UFC 200 to win the bantamweight title. She blunted any thought of a Rousey takeover, outclassing the former champion and stopping her in just 48 seconds. She claimed the featherweight title by knocking out the widely feared (and avoided) Justino in 51 seconds, and for good measure, she knocked out Holm with a vicious kick to the head in the first.

But perhaps her two most impressive wins in the decade were over Shevchenko, the reigning UFC flyweight champion who gave her the most significant challenge of her reign.

There is really no other choice as the women’s MMA Fighter of the Decade than Nunes.

There is really no other choice as the Female MMA Fighter of the Decade than UFC double champion Amanda Nunes. (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
There is really no other choice as the Female MMA Fighter of the Decade than UFC double champion Amanda Nunes. (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Oh, some may want to give it to Rousey for putting women’s MMA on the map and getting it into the UFC. Women were fighting long before Rousey came along, but no one brought more exposure to the women’s game than Rousey.

She did it with a fearsome level of dominance early in the decade. All 14 of Rousey’s MMA fights came in the decade. Prior to beating Tate in 2012 to win the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight belt, she submitted Budd in 39 seconds with an arm bar.

In her 12 wins, only her rematch with Tate at UFC 168 went past the first. She finished all 12 of her opponents and found herself on the cover of Sports Illustrated under the headline, “The World’s Most Dominant Athlete.”

But she lost it just as quickly. She was nowhere near her old, fearsome self against Holm, who exploited Rousey’s weakness in the stand-up and knocked her out with a kick to the head in the second round in one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.

She was off for 13 months and looked fitter and more muscular at the weigh-in for her bout at UFC 207 with Nunes. Nunes hurt Rousey badly with a jab, the first punch landed in the fight, and Rousey just staggered around the cage until Nunes put an end to her.

Shevchenko is another fighter with a strong résumé. After going 7-0 in the previous decade against lesser opposition, Shevchenko returned to MMA in 2010 and lost on a doctor’s stoppage to Liz Carmouche. But she won 11 of her next 13, only dropping the two bouts up a weight class to Nunes. Along the way she defeated Sarah Kaufman, Holm, Julianna Pena, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carmouche and established herself as one of the pound-for-pound best women in the world.

No one, though, has the record that Nunes has, and with Nunes having victories over each of the other logical competitors, it was a one-sided race.

Amanda Nunes is the Female MMA Fighter of the Decade for 2010-19.

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