Amanda Nunes’ American Top Team teammate Alex “Astrogirl” Chambers vividly remembers watching Holly Holm beat Ronda Rousey for the bantamweight world championship last year at UFC 193. “We were watching the event at her apartment and I’ll never forget the words that came out of Amanda’s mouth when she saw Holly win the belt – ‘That belt will be mine,’” Chambers told the Extra Rounds podcast earlier this week.
“It wasn’t so much the words, but the deliberative intent she had in those words that was the big deal. That desire is reflected in the way she trains and the way she prepares for a fight.”
For Chambers, that moment was as inspiring as it was chilling. She’s since joyously watched Nunes make good on her promise.
“The Lioness” finally got her shot at gold in the main event of July’s UFC 200 against then champion Miesha Tate. Nunes wasted little time in knocking Tate down and choking her out, claiming the division’s crown.
On Friday the Brazilian once again headlines, this time opposite the returning Ronda Rousey at UFC 207 in Las Vegas. On the eve of Nunes’ first title-defense coaches and teammates alike are confident that everything will continue to go according to plan for her.
“We asked for the fight,” Nunes’ coach “Conan” Silveira tells Champions.
“We had that plan before the fight with Miesha, believe it or not. That was a part of a conversation that we as a team had, together. We said, ‘first let’s fight Miesha and when we’re done fighting her, let’s go to Ronda.’ So, you can say, ‘how did you know that you were going to win?’ I think that when you understand MMA - and of course I understand that anyone can win in a fight. It doesn’t take a lot of power to knock someone out.
“But when you see the division, you see how everyone in it is fighting, how they look each fight, you’ve got to be realistic," Silveira continued. "#AmandaNunes is the most dangerous fighter in the division.”
Another ATT coach who has worked closely with Nunes, former world champion Mike Brown, believes that their woman can negate Rousey’s biggest tools, including her judo takedowns. “It’s about footwork,” he details.
“Smart feet, good movement. Holly [Holm] showed that. I think that’s the key to not being taken down, is smart feet, smart motion.”
“Conan” continued, emphasizing that the concern during Nunes’ UFC 207 training camp was in preparing her to be her best not in specifically countering Rousey.
“Our concern is not about Ronda – it was how we were going to get well-prepared for the fight,” he reasons.
“Of course, we never underestimate anybody…[but] I don’t see how Ronda can really overcome this whole thing about losing the way she lost.”
#RondaRousey was taken out of her element in her last fight, the UFC 193 knockout loss to Holly Holm in November, 2015. Rousey was unable to win the takedown battles and ate huge shot after huge shot from the expert striker before being knocked out by a high kick.
While talking to members of Nunes’ team, it is clear that they feel she is a quick learner, and that she has improved a great deal already since her previous impressive title victory over Tate last summer.
“I believe she is a full-package fighter,” Silveira went on.
“Whatever situation you put her in - on the ground, wrestling - whatever you do, she doesn’t only know about it, she’s an expert in it. She’s fluent in it. Amanda doesn’t depend on being in any particular situation or scenario to win.”