The first woman to win two belts in the UFC! Amanda Nunes left the interior of Bahia and entered the history of mixed martial arts. Her journey is full of determination, dreams, struggles and achievements. Discover the history of the Brazilian lioness.
The Bahia of Pojuca
Pojuca is 67 km from Salvador, capital of Bahia. Amanda Lourenço Nunes was born in this city with a little more than 40,000 inhabitants on May 30, 1988. As a child, she was bold, agitated and was encouraged by her mother to play sports. Under the influence of her older sister, she started fighting jiu-jitsu at age 16. She was the only woman among the men at the academy, but she didn’t give up on becoming a great fighter.
Amanda left for Salvador and started training at the best jiu-jitsu and judo school in the state. She had intended to live with her sister Vanessa, but the location made her training difficult. So she moved to the gym: she woke up at 4:30 am and cleaned up before her first class at 6 am. At this time, she started to fight judo, as her master demanded that all students learn both fights. She soon earned the nickname lioness: she was the only woman in a gym whose symbol bore the image of two lions.
The athlete won several jiu-jitsu championships. However, the sport did not provide financial aid and she had to pay to compete. Inspired by her uncle, José Alves, a MMA fighter, Amanda migrated to MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). In her first fight, she was defeated by Brazilian Ana Maria. She moved to the United States and began training at her master’s branch academy.
In 2013, Amanda was invited to be the first Brazilian woman to step into the UFC octagon. With six fights, she won the bantamweight belt. In 2018, she became the first champion in two UFC categories – by beating Brazilian Cris Cyborg. The featherweight belt, which was held by the rival for 13 years, now belongs to Amanda.
After leaving New Jersey and going to Florida in 2012, Amanda Nunes met American fighter Nina Ansaroff. She also competes in MMA, but in lower categories. In 2014, the two started dating. In 2018, they got engaged, and in 2020, Nina gave birth to the couple’s first daughter, Raegn Ann Nunes. Both Amanda and Nina share the family routine on social media. Raegn appears in publicity photos of fights and even at costume parties. The Lioness is the first open lesbian in the UFC.
First Brazilian to sign with the UFC
In several interviews, Amanda Nunes is asked how she got to the top. The Bahian told Ag Fight, the UFC news agency in Brazil: “I keep the person I am, because I already dreamed and wanted all this. When I got here, I managed in a good way, with my feet on the ground, that the most important thing is to live this moment, which is so beautiful. It’s staying focused, staying the champion, which is the most important thing.” Her motivation is to create a legacy and memories for her daughter to enjoy. Whether it’s backstage, weigh-in or wrestling, Amanda wants the little one to understand everything moms do and love so much. The belts are not a burden, but a dream that she lives every day. A dream of being the first Brazilian to sign with the UFC until she became the first woman with two belts.
10 facts about the lioness in the octagon
In addition to the two belts won, Amanda Nunes collects many victories. The reputation of a lioness does not make her a skittish and unsympathetic person. On the contrary, she is all smiles and even has her own doll. Below, discover ten facts about the Brazilian fighter from Pojuca:
1. Was a soccer player
Before learning about martial arts, Amanda was a soccer player. She played as a forward and dreamed of turning professional. The athlete started with a team in her city, then went to a team in Salvador and even auditioned for the Vitória team. However, she had to give up the field to dedicate herself to the rings. Currently, when possible, she visits her hometown and takes the opportunity to participate in charity games.
2. Pan-American and World Jiu-Jitsu Champion
Amanda is a black belt in jiu-jitsu. She won a gold medal at the 2008 Pan American jiu-jitsu and the 2009 World Championships. Besides, she is a brown belt in judo, that is, nobody messes with this woman!
3. Has her own doll
The UFC’s greatest champions were honored in a collection of articulated figures. Of course Amanda Nunes is among them. Whether to collect or to give as a gift, the doll of the greatest fighter in the history of Brazil is very cool, with realistic movements and impressive details, such as the tattoos, the belt and the gloves.
4. Received $550,000 at UFC 239
Held in Las Vegas, UFC 239 featured great MMA stars and high prize pools. By beating American Holly Holm with a knockout in the first round, Nunes earned 550 thousand dollars. Three hundred thousand for the fight, two hundred thousand for the victory and fifty thousand for the performance of the night. Even the American Jon Jones received less than her, earning half a million.
5. It took less than a minute to write your name in the story
Two moments were crucial in Amanda’s MMA career: the first, when she defended her bantamweight belt against MMA legend, American Ronda Roussey, and won by TKO in 48 seconds. The second, by winning the featherweight belt against Brazilian Cris Cybord in 51 seconds. Amanda Nunes needed less than a minute to become one of the greatest in history.
6. Women’s record for belt defenses
She has the record for defending the belt in the women’s category with 12 wins. Her record was broken in 2021 after losing to American Julianna Peña. Amanda has already fought 26 fights, with 21 wins and 5 losses.
7. Have you ever fought at a June party bonfire?
As a child, the athlete played a lot. She told Canal Combate that neighbors always needed to call her mother to ‘solve’ situations. At a June party, Nunes fought with a boy, she doesn’t even remember the reason, and the two ended up at the bonfire, rolling in the middle of the flames. The amazing thing about this story is that neither of them suffered burns, but the boy bit her cheek, which was swollen for a week. Needless to say, the neighbors called her mother, right?
8. Forbes 30 Most Influential Athletes
In its traditional poll of the most influential people in different segments, Forbes magazine elected Amanda Nunes as one of the thirty biggest influences in the sport in 2017. Her name appeared alongside great women, such as tennis player Sloane Stephens, swimmer Jessica Long and jumper Tori Bowie.
9. She is a close friend of Adriana Lima
Amanda Nunes and Adriana Lima have more things in common than you might think. Both are from Bahia and affectionately call each other the sisters of Salvador. They have lived in Florida for a long time and are passionate about martial arts. The model always posts her support for the fighter on social media. And whenever she can, Amanda gives the ex-Victoria’s Secret angel a few lessons.
10. Dana White considers Amanda the greatest of all time
After Amanda Nunes won UFC 232 in Los Angeles, Dana White praised the Bahian’s performance and declared: “she is the best of all time. How to deny? This was the fight to find out who was the best. If you look at her resume, the people she beat, there’s no denying it. She is the best of all time.”
Want to learn to fight like a girl? Beatriz Ferreira is another Brazilian fighter who took the country’s name to world podiums. However, unlike Amanda, her gloves are boxing gloves. Meet the Olympic medalist!
With Knowledge Comes Wisdom
Walk comfortably in both Darkness and Light with these digital Books of Shadows: