It appears the UFC will have a women’s featherweight division for a little while longer.
With UFC president Dana White saying that he’ll stay committed to the 145-pound weight class as long as Amanda Nunes wants to defend her title, the reigning two-division champion made it clear this week that she absolutely plans to stay at both bantamweight and featherweight for the immediate future.
“I go step by step but I have the belt. I’m not going to let the belt go,” Nunes said when addressing her plans at featherweight during the UFC 269 media day. “As long as I’ll be able to fight. I’m healthy. So I can go to the gym everyday for training. I’m going to be 34 years old. I still feel very young. I have a lot to go still.
“Yes, for sure. I can go up or down no problem. Let’s see the future. I’m excited.”
Following her last fight at bantamweight when she defeated Germaine de Randamie in 2019, Nunes moved back to 145 pounds where she defended her featherweight title in consecutive bouts.
Rumors then began swirling that perhaps Nunes’ days competing at 135 pounds were numbered as she got more and more comfortable while fighting in the bigger division.
Nunes said that couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially after she made some necessary changes in her preparation that allowed her to make an easier cut back down to bantamweight for her upcoming fight against Julianna Pena on Saturday night.
“Actually this is the best weight cut that I’ve ever had in my whole life,” Nunes revealed. “It’s crazy to say that. The last one with Germaine, I had a hard time and I looked at Nina [Nunes] and I cried. I never cried after I made weight. I said this is the last time I cry when I make weight. I’m supposed to be happy today. But it was very tough for me. Surprising, I was able to handle 25 minutes with Germaine, take her down and be in there but my body was out.
“This one, we made a lot changes. We put a lot of nutrition in. Right now, I’m almost there [on weight] actually.”
If there’s one problem that Nunes might face whenever she does return to 145 pounds, it’s a lack of notable competition left for her to fight.
Because the UFC hasn’t really fleshed out that division, the only featherweight fighter on a win streak currently is fellow Brazilian Norma Dumont, who has picked up impressive victories over Aspen Ladd and Felicia Spencer in consecutive performances.
Of course the best competition for Nunes could come from her teammate and frequent training partner Kayla Harrison as she explores free agency after serving as a two-time champion in the PFL.
Harrison is still exploring her options right now but a showdown with Nunes could create more problems than it solves for the two of them considering they not only work together on almost a daily basis but they also share the same head coach in former WEC champion Mike Brown.
Despite those possible conflicts, Nunes says she’s absolutely rooting for Harrison to make whatever decision will be the best move for her career even if that somehow puts them on a collision course together.
“Honestly it’s up to her,” Nunes said about Harrison. “Everybody knows their own career. I hope she makes the right decision. In the UFC or another promotion, I’m always going to cheer for her.
“We train very well, we’re very good in the gym. We have a lot of fun in the gym so whatever she decides, I think this has to be her business.”
As she prepared to face a notable grappler like Pena this weekend, Nunes admits that Harrison has been a huge asset in her training camp as they continue to push each other to get better and better.
“[Kayla is a] very good training partner,” Nunes said. “We have a good time when we’re training. We’re good friends. Kayla’s huge, to be able to give me that pressure that I needed.
“It’s always amazing to have her be able to help me. Every time that we get together for training is always a good time.”