Amanda Nunes has bulldozed every MMA opponent she’s faced for the past four years. But a win at UFC 245 could set her up for a potential fight with crossover appeal.
Boxing champion and Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields has said she would be interested in testing the waters in MMA, and a fight against Nunes definitely grabbed her attention. Even her promoter Dmitriy Salita told TMZ that he could see Shields crossing over to the cage to face Nunes by sometime in 2020.
Now, it appears UFC president Dana White has gotten involved in those talks after revealing that he’s spoken to Shields’ team about a potential move to the Octagon. The UFC president said Shields will be in attendance this weekend when Nunes defends her bantamweight title against Germaine de Randamie at UFC 245 from Las Vegas.
“Claressa Shields is coming,” White told BT Sport. “She’ll be here Saturday to watch the fight. She’s coming to watch the fight, and I will be honest with you, Claressa Shields’ people and I have talked. I don’t know, we’ll see. We’ve talked.
“I know they’re both interested in it, too. We’ll see how this whole thing plays out. We have a lot of respect for her, too, and she’s going to come to the fight and should be fun.”
White played a big hand in the 2017 megafight that saw Conor McGregor cross over into boxing for a matchup against Floyd Mayweather. “The Money Fight” ended up as the second biggest selling pay-per-view of all time (behind Mayweather’s fight against Manny Pacquiao).
Shields doesn’t gather an audience anywhere near Mayweather. But as a two-time Olympic gold medalist with an undefeated record in boxing across multiple weight classes, she has the credentials to back up a move to the UFC.
If Nunes gets past de Randamie this weekend, the list of contenders still waiting to face her shrinks dramatically outside of Ketlen Vieira, who’s also fighting on this weekend’s UFC 245 card against Irene Aldana.
That fight might make sense based on UFC rankings. But there’s no doubt that Nunes facing Shields would be a much bigger draw for the company.
White isn’t too concerned about Nunes’ future competition, because even if the Shields’ fight doesn’t happen, he said there will always be new contenders waiting in the wings.
“You never run out of opponents,” White said. “Anderson Silva went on a run for a very long time, never ran out of opponents. There’s always somebody. There’s always going to be somebody next.”