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Morning Report: Amanda Nunes explains why she wanted to put Cris Cyborg superfight on back burner

Amanda Nunes
Amanda Nunes
Esther Lin,

After demolishing Yana Kunitskaya at UFC 222 a few weeks ago, Cris Cyborg called out Amanda Nunes, saying now she is waiting for Amanda Nunes because Nunes called her out and “when you call Cyborg out, you have to handle it.”

Well, Cyborg may be waiting longer than anticipated now.

Speaking recently with the UFC Unfiltered podcast, the women’s bantamweight champion explained why she pivoted her focus from a superfight with Cyborg to her upcoming title defense against Raquel Pennington, and why she is currently more interested in defending her own belt than in challenging for Cyborg’s.

“When I texted Dana White that I wanted the fight, I didn’t have nobody in my division,” said Nunes. “I didn’t even know if I was gonna fight soon. I was concerned with waiting years because I’ve been in that position before, waiting so long for a fight, I don’t want to do it again and stay waiting, waiting, waiting.

“But now, we have Rocky [Pennington] and we have the Brazilian, Ketlen [Vieira] and I feel like my division is starting to grow. If you pay attention, the division’s gonna be awesome and now I have two. I have Rocky and I have Ketlen. Rocky is my next step and I want to see Ketlen after, for sure.”

Pennington has been out of action since her upset win over former champion Miesha Tate at UFC 205 and after Cyborg’s win over Kunitskaya, UFC President Dana White even briefly mentioned the possibility of scrapping Pennington’s title shot in favor of booking the Cyborg-Nunes superfight for this summer. That doesn’t appear likely now. But should Nunes successfully defend her belt against Pennington, the question then becomes, would the bantamweight champion prefer to take on Vieira next instead of Cyborg?

Apparently so. On the same night Cyborg obliterated Kunitskaya, Vieira beat Cat Zingano, the last woman to defeat Nunes. The win impressed the bantamweight champion and, in her mind, propelled Vieira to next in line after she handles her immediate business with Pennington.

“I think she’s deserving, after this fight against Rocky,” said Nunes. “She beat the girl that beat me. I think she’s ready and I’m excited to fight her.”

So with Nunes seemingly more interested in tending to her own weight class for the moment, Cyborg may need to take another fight in the meantime. That is disappointing news for fans who want a superfight between the two champions but Nunes says not to worry, the bout is inevitable, but currently she’d rather stay active with exciting title challengers than sit out waiting to negotiate a superfight deal to face Cris Cyborg.

“There’s gonna be a lot of things involved in that,” said the champion. “Having the contract for her, for me, it has to make sense for both of us so we can do this. It’s nothing personal against Cyborg. When you become a professional fighter, you want to become the best, you want to beat the best.

“It’s nothing personal but I feel like there’s a lot of things involved in that and I don’t want to wait for that. I want to keep fighting, I don’t want to wait to negotiate. Right now my division has a new contender and I’m excited for that. Whatever happens after that, we’ll see.”

Amanda Nunes defends her UFC women’s bantamweight title against Raquel Pennington at UFC 224 on May 12 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


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