The Nice Divide is a recurring function right here at MMA Preventing through which two of our workers debate a subject on this planet of MMA — whether or not it’s information, a struggle, a loopy factor any individual did, a loopy factor any individual didn’t do, or some ethical dilemma threatening the very basis of the game — and take a look at to determine a decision. We’d love so that you can be a part of within the dialogue within the feedback beneath.

Few fighters in MMA historical past can boast the accolades of Amanda Nunes. She’s received titles in two divisions, efficiently defended her bantamweight championship 5 consecutive occasions, and holds wins over the likes of Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Miesha Tate, and Holly Holm. This weekend, she defends of her featherweight title for the primary time when she fights Felicia Spencer in the principle occasion of UFC 250.

Regardless of her staggering accomplishments, Nunes has not confirmed to be a dependable field workplace draw, nor does she have the mainstream cachet of the likes of Rousey or present friends resembling Conor McGregor and Jon Jones. This may be attributed to quite a lot of elements, however the query stays, is it too late for Nunes to turn into a star attraction?

Jed Meshew and Alexander Ok. Lee go head-to-head to find out what the longer term would possibly maintain for Nunes.


Meshew: You understand how I do know Amanda Nunes isn’t going to be a draw? As a result of I can add.

Amanda Nunes is the best feminine fighter of all time – that a lot is past contestation. Frankly, she could be the best fighter of all time, full cease. However of the various issues which have been conclusively established on this sport, it’s that excellence and curiosity don’t go hand in hand. Sure, you want excellence to have any type of sustained star energy (or no less than, it’s essential to hold successful), however excellence alone grants you nothing greater than a shiny belt and plaudits from MMA hardcore fandom.

For example, have a look at Demetrious Johnson. The person referred to as “Mighty Mouse” is essentially the most achieved UFC champion of all time, with 11 straight profitable title defenses, 9 efficiency bonuses, and a “Fighter of the 12 months” title. However regardless of all that, Dana White rattling close to needed to paper arenas when Johnson was headlining occasions, and he ended up buying and selling the champ away for a man who went 1-2 within the UFC after which retired — and it was an excellent commerce!

The factor with star energy is you don’t develop it. You’ve got it otherwise you don’t. Folks are superb at recognizing “it,” even when they don’t actually know what “it” is, and I’m sorry to say, however Nunes categorically lacks “it.” God love her, however Amanda Nunes isn’t “cool” by any conventional definition. She owns an precise goat. She wears a lion masks that could possibly be a part of a low-budget horror movie franchise. She has this tattoo. These are usually not the actions of an individual who’s cool, and thus, not the actions of a star.

Nunes can also be not notably intimidating. Don’t get me unsuitable, “The Lioness” is a rattling machine who I wouldn’t wish to struggle. However if you happen to noticed her strolling down the road, you wouldn’t suppose, “Oh sh*t, there goes the baddest motherf**ker in two sneakers.” Cris Cyborg had this going for her, as did Brock Lesnar.

That is the place the naysayers will inevitably say, “None of what you mentioned is true. Anderson Silva is a dork and he grew to become a draw. Amanda is simply 32 and nonetheless has loads of time to develop a following like ‘The Spider’ did.” To which I reply, nonsense. Anderson Silva is a legend, however his star energy is a fable. Anderson headlined 19 pay-per-view occasions over his UFC profession. Solely two of them broke 750,000 buys and solely one in all them topped one million. These two occasions have been the rematches with Chael Sonnen and Chris Weidman, respectively – marquee occasions with huge promotional push and charming, simply digestible storylines. Apart from that, Silva was merely a better-than-average UFC star, regardless of being branded the best fighter ever. His most up-to-date PPV — a struggle towards Israel Adesanya no much less — pulled in simply 175,000 buys.

Extra to the purpose, although, have a look at the listing of contemporaries from which Silva needed to construct his star: Wealthy Franklin, Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Sonnen, Vitor Belfort. Except for all of them being Corridor of Famers (or future Corridor of Famers), that can also be a listing of massively common fighters. Sorry Charlie, however Felicia Spencer isn’t bringing in the identical type of recognition.

And there’s the rub for Nunes. Regardless of being champion of two divisions, there’s nobody fascinating left for her to struggle, no less than within the public notion. She already demolished Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate in headlining roles on two of the most important occasions within the firm’s historical past — UFC 200 and UFC 207 respectively — and that obtained her precisely nowhere. Her subsequent bout clocked 100,000 buys, and the one after that, a measly 85,000. That’s in all probability why afterward, she was restricted to co-main occasion responsibility, even for her struggle with Cyborg.

Now, as I’m certain you’ll level out, this isn’t all her fault. The UFC is definitely fairly horrible at constructing stars and as an alternative simply harnesses these ones that make themselves common (bear in mind once they tried to make Sage Northcutt a factor, bless their hearts). However the truth stays, Nunes had her probability to recover from with the followers. She’s fought Rousey, Cyborg, Tate, and Holly Holm, and but nonetheless attracts worse than a third-grade artwork pupil. If Nunes was going to be a draw, she’d be one already.

As Max Holloway says, it’s what it’s.


Lee: There’s nonetheless time.

Some of the irritating facets of the struggle recreation for the athletes concerned needs to be that there isn’t any confirmed formulation that ensures mainstream recognition and large paydays. Tyron Woodley by no means figured it out. Neither did Fedor Emelianenko (in North America), Demetrious Johnson, nor Jose Aldo (not that any of them appear to care all that a lot). And even if you happen to have a look at these fortunate sufficient to attain stardom, there isn’t any sample.

Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre, Chuck Liddell, Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey, Chael Sonnen, Kimbo Slice, and Bob Sapp. That’s only a sampling of the fighters that grew to become respectable cash makers in MMA, they usually have much more variations than they’ve similarities. But for all of them, some inherent and inimitable high quality of theirs clicked with audiences.

I say all this to border the problem that Nunes is dealing with. Regardless of what number of spectacular finishes she authors, irrespective of what number of profitable title defenses she strings collectively, it takes that elusive “it” issue – plus a whole lot of luck – to interrupt by means of to the broad public consciousness (and to get that public to shell out 65 bucks to observe you struggle).

Does Nunes have her shortcomings so far as being a dynamic movie star? Positive. However fairly than assist to cover these weaknesses and intensify her strengths, the UFC primarily let her drift on her personal or worse, sabotaged her advertising potential.

Keep in mind, Nunes was prominently featured on a number of huge playing cards. She and Valentina Shevchenko opened the principle card of UFC 196, a present that drew over 1.5 million buys because of the primary Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz struggle. She ended up headlining UFC 200 (over a million buys) reverse Tate after a bout between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier fell by means of after which had her first title protection towards Rousey at UFC 207 (over a million buys once more). Despite the fact that she was the B-side towards Tate and Rousey and the presence of a lot bigger stars drove the buys on these playing cards, the very fact stays that a whole lot of viewers have been in a position to see Nunes struggle and win.

But following her win over Tate, Nunes wasn’t granted the type of media tour that Tate, Holm, and Rousey have been feted with following their championship triumphs. Slightly than give attention to her being the primary Brazilian girls’s UFC champion, or the primary brazenly homosexual champion, and even simply the one-sided beatdown she placed on Tate, her second was given the unremarkable pomp and circumstance that has turn into a UFC trademark at this level, and inside months, the main target shifted from the brand new champ to the return of Rousey.

The media failed her right here too, as a lot of the build-up to UFC 207 was about Rousey’s on-screen absence versus the rising presence of Nunes. Since successful the belt, Nunes has proven she has a vibrant and playful persona, however you wouldn’t know that by means of any advertising on the UFC’s half. And after dispatching Rousey in 48 seconds, once more the main target was on Rousey’s downfall and never Nunes’s rise.

The largest blow to Nunes’s picture was delivered by none aside from Dana F. White himself, who threw his champion all the way in which beneath the bus as a result of she was pressured out of the UFC 213 fundamental occasion on account of a bout of continual sinusitis that required a visit to the hospital. Overlook the truth that her rematch with Valentina Shevchenko was merely re-booked to happen two months later. The injury was executed.

However once more, there’s nonetheless time.

The simplest method for Nunes to make a bounce in notoriety is to seek out herself rivals that may both promote a struggle higher than she will be able to or current a compelling risk. Her countryman Anderson Silva was a stable draw throughout his middleweight championship run, however his largest numbers got here in rematches with the talkative Sonnen and the usurper Chris Weidman.

A dynamic challenger rising from the bantamweight or featherweight ranks would do wonders for Nunes’s legacy. Paradoxically, dropping to Felicia Spencer this weekend might truly assist to construct intrigue for Nunes’s future fights.

To not harp on the Silva comparability an excessive amount of, however remember that Nunes is probably nonetheless within the first a part of what could possibly be a legendary stretch for her. Silva’s early UFC conquests included Dan Henderson and Wealthy Franklin, however there have been additionally a number of undercooked challengers in there. The perfect might nonetheless be but to come back for Nunes, particularly if she avoids listless outings like her most up-to-date towards Germaine de Randamie.

The UFC has to do its half, too. Hold that very same promotional vitality that you’ve for McGregor, Jones, Diaz, and Masvidal when she fights. Use your relationship with ESPN to place throughout their programming. Let individuals know that they’re witnessing historical past within the making each time she steps into the cage. And for goodness sake if she has to overlook a struggle, assist her, versus reducing her down.

At 32, Nunes is in her prime, and it’s not inconceivable that absence might make the center develop fonder ought to she take time without work within the close to future to begin a household. When she returns, the hope can be that contemporary challengers have emerged and followers understand they didn’t know what they’d till it was gone.

There’s loads “ifs” concerned right here, however that speaks extra to the fickle nature of MMA stardom than any insurmountable shortcomings on Nunes’s half. We all know she will be able to deal with enterprise on struggle night time, and the door isn’t closed on her doing huge enterprise for the UFC sometime.


Can Amanda Nunes turn into a celebrity?

  • 17%

    Sure, the perfect is but to come back for her

    (20 votes)

  • 82%

    No, it’s already confirmed that she will be able to’t

    (97 votes)

117 votes complete

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