It’s a new year, so Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of MMA in 2019. Throughout the the week, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
A two-division champion and the consensus greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes separated herself from the pack even more in 2019 with two successful defenses of her bantamweight belt.
Her first defense came at UFC 239 in July, when she landed a head kick in the first round against Holly Holm to become the first person to finish the former boxing world champion by knockout. Holm had previously gone the distance with Germaine de Randamie and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, but it took less than five minutes for “The Lioness” to dispatch of the former titleholder.
This victory also carried additional significance in that Nunes has now defeated every other bantamweight champion in UFC history. Not only has she beaten every other woman who laid claim to the belt, but none of those women made it out of the first round. Nunes captured the crown with a first-round submission over Miesha Tate and then followed that performance with a 48-second knockout of Ronda Rousey. The Holm knockout was further proof that no other woman has a rightful claim to being called the GOAT.
Nunes wasn’t finished after her UFC 239 performance. She rounded out the year as part of the trifecta of title fights at UFC 245, where she squared off against Dutch kickboxing phenom Germaine de Randamie in a rematch of a 2013 bout that Nunes won by TKO. The rematch went the distance, but there was no question who would get her hand raised after the final bell sounded. Nunes largely dominated the contest, taking the fight to the mat and demonstrating her superior ground game en route to a unanimous-decision victory.
Nunes has been so dominant over her title reign that she has cleaned out the division of obvious contenders to the point where rumors are starting to fly about a crossover fight with three-division boxing champion Claressa Shields. Whether the fight with Shields comes to fruition or the UFC finds another challenger within its ranks, fans are in for a treat whenever the 2019 “Female Fighter of the Year” steps foot in the Octagon.
Other finalists: Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Weili Zhang
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2019 MMA Award winners.