Harv currently writes for Abstract Sports, the Sports History Network, and the magazine Gridiron Greats. Harv wrote the published book "Pro Football's Most Passionate Fans" and as a professional writer has had articles published in an array of sports publications.
Absolute G.O.A.T. - UFC 250
If you had any doubts as to who is the greatest female mixed martial artist in history, that answer was definitively provided on June 6 at UFC 250 when the current two-division champion Amanda Nunes successfully defended her featherweight championship by obliterating challenger Felicia Spencer with a brutal unanimous decision.
The fight was completely one-sided and the complete beat down of Spencer left no doubt in anyone’s mind that we just witnessed perhaps the best performance of Nunes’ career and she established herself as not just the greatest female fighter ever but maybe the best pound-for-pound greatest fighter in history man or woman.
While all other sports are idle, the UFC staged the main card that was solid in all five fights that followed the preliminary and early preliminary bouts. Again, the fights were held without a single fan in the arena out in Las Vegas at the UFC’s APEX facility. The UFC seems to be getting comfortable holding events without fans and this is something that no other sport could probably get away with.
Of the five fights on the main card, only two went the distance. There were seven other fights on the night and three of those made it through the entire three rounds (winners by decision were Alex Caceres, Cody Stamann, and Devin Clark). Ian Heinisch, Maki Pitolo, and Alex Perez all scored TKOs while Herbert Burns scored one of only two submissions on the night as he used a rear-naked choke to defeat a very good Evan Dunham.
Starting from the opening bout of the main card, what follows is my breakdown of the action.
Sean O’Malley defeats Eddie Wineland by KO.
Sean O’Malley may have entered this fight with the worst hair coloring in history. With several colors making up his wild hair that was braided up for the event, O’Malley’s mop-top had no impact on his performance as he blasted out a cagey veteran in Eddie Wineland in the opening round. With the victory, O’Malley collects a Performance of the Night bonus and is headed towards becoming one of the most dangerous fighters in the bantamweight division. O’Malley is very long and his frame makes him a very difficult fighter to figure out. For Wineland, he’s been around for a long time but he failed to hand O’Malley his first loss in 12 pro fights.
Neil Magny by unanimous decision over Anthony Rocco Martin in the welterweight division.
Magny may be one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC and with this victory has won four of his last five and seven of his last 10 losing only to Santiago Ponzinibbio, Rafael dos Anjos, and Lorenz Larkin in those last 10 bouts. But at UFC 250, Magny was dominant raising his overall record to 23-7. Martin had won five of his last six the only loss coming at the hands of Demian Maia. Magny made this one look easy and he should be in range for a title shot one day soon.
Aljamain Sterling submits Cory Sandhagen with a rear-naked choke.
Of the five fights on the main card at UFC 250, four were in the bantamweight division. One of the biggest threats to the now vacant bantamweight title is Aljamain Sterling. With Henry Cejudo retired, Marlon Moraes is top-ranked followed by Sterling at #2. Moraes already owns a knockout victory over Sterling that took place at UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Ortega on December 9, 2017. But since then, Sterling has won five straight fights beating Brett Johns, Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera, Pedro Munhoz, and on June 6, Sandhagen. This was believed by many to be the best fight of the night but instead Sterling was masterful with a beautiful rear-naked choke victory that made a sandman out of Sandhagen as he went to sleep for a moment. I believe in a rematch with Moraes for the vacant title Sterling wins the belt. Sterling has just two other losses on his record both coming back-to-back to Raphael Assunção and Bryan Caraway both by a decision that took place in 2016 and 2017. Before the Caraway fight, Sterling was 12-0.
Cody Garbrandt knocks out Raphael Assunção in the second round.
In the final bantamweight fight of the night, former champion Cody Garbrandt got off the losing snide by scoring a vicious KO of the favored by some, Assunção. With a decision victory over champion Dominick Cruz in December 2016, Garbrandt would get blasted out by T.J. Dillashaw in just two rounds and lose his title. In the rematch almost a year later, Dillashaw repeated the performance scoring another TKO this time in the first round. Then, Pedro Munhoz handed Garbrandt his third straight knockout loss on March 2, 2019. UFC 250 was a crossroads fight for Garbrandt, a definite MUST win and he got it. But in a post-fight commentary, he began to boast again and he should watch himself. Yes, he had a nice win, but given his previous three fights, this victory does not establish himself as the division’s best something he seemed to believe following his knockout win. As for Assunção, he now has lost three straight after riding a four-fight win streak. In the last three losses he has suffered, Assunção lost to Moraes, Sandhagen, and now Garbrandt.
Amanda Nunes defeats Felicia Spencer by unanimous decision.
While Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov are both undefeated champions, Amanda Nunes currently holds the women’s bantamweight and featherweight championships and at UFC 250 made history by becoming the only fighter in MMA history to successfully defend two championships while holding both titles. Nunes did it in extremely impressive fashion with the win over Spencer. Not only did Nunes dominate the fight winning by scores of 50-44, 50-44, and 50-45, she beat up Spencer. By the fifth and final round, all Spencer had accomplished was that she showed tons of heart in staying in the fight and taking big-time strikes.
Felicia Spencer was beaten in all aspects of the fight and Amanda Nunes showed that she is not just a striker, but a complete martial artist skilled in all facets of the sport. That in itself makes her unbeatable for now. This fight was so one-sided that I believed Spencer’s corner was irresponsible sending her out for a final round. It’s impressive that she had the heart and will to want to go on, but she had NO chance to win that fight so going out for a fifth-round made no sense.
In supporting Amanda Nunes as the best, just think about who she has beaten. She wipes out Spencer, decisions a game Germaine de Randamie, viciously knocks out Holly Holm, Cris Cyborg, Raquel Pennington, and Ronda Rousey, and submits Miesha Tate to win the bantamweight title. But the list of solid fighters she has beaten is ridiculous. Among those is Valentina Shevchenko who some think is the best female fighter but there’s no argument for that given Nunes has beaten her twice by decision, one was split the other unanimously. Others who have fallen victim to the woman’s two-belt champion have been Julia Budd, Shayna Baszler, and Sara McMann.
More food for thought…Spencer, Holm, Cyborg, Randamie, Tate, Shevchenko, Baszler, and Budd have ALL been former or are current champions. That’s eight fighters who wore a belt and Amanda Nunes owns a victory over all of them. And Conor McGregor wants to call himself one of the best ever? He even put himself in the top five of G.O.A.T.s. Ridiculous.
While Nunes lost to Cat Zingano, that was six years ago and Nunes is a far better and more rounded fighter now. Alexis Davis also defeated Nunes but that fight was nine years ago. The problem for Amanda Nunes now is who to fight next? She’s essentially wiped out both of the divisions she is champion. There’s no one left. Of those ranked who she has not fought, there is no way they present a challenge.
We’ve all seen the pound-for-pound rankings that are separated by men and women fighters but I think since they all perform in the same sport, based on skills the pound-for-pound ranking should incorporate both genders. Therefore, for me, Amanda Nunes is the best of them, men or women. Some might say Jon Jones but given how he has struggled in several of his past most recent fights, he has never dominated anyone the way Nunes did at UFC 250. Khabib Nurmagomedov is undefeated but he has not faced the talent level that Nunes has in beating all of his opponents. Anderson Silva is one of the all-time greats but whether he has pushed his career too far and should have retired long ago or not, I think Amanda Nunes is a better overall fighter than he.
Conor McGregor? For me, he doesn’t even fall into the top 10 all-time. McGregor wins two titles and defends neither. Now he retires abruptly and does so on a night where Amanda Nunes shined. Trying to steal the spotlight was McGregor and I think he quit because he knows he is not the best fighter out there. His hype and mouth have clouded what his real talent in the Octagon is and it is not very much. Amanda Nunes is the G.O.A.T. across all divisions be it men or women.