The second of our three title fights on the main card features the consensus greatest female fighter of all time in the defending women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion, Amanda Nunes, welcoming a worthy challenge in the form of a physically imposing and well-rounded talent in Megan Anderson.
Nunes has held the bantamweight belt since defeating Meisha Tate in 2016, and the featherweight strap since her score-settling first-round finish of Chris Cyborg in 2018. She has defeated every fighter in history to hold either belt, and will be going for the second defense of her featherweight title on Saturday. She currently holds a remarkable 11-fight winning streak including seven finishes, five of which came in the first round. She is a prohibitive 1/10 favorite on the moneyline at time of writing.
Anderson is currently on a two-fight winning streak, bringing her professional record to 10-4. She has finished nine of her ten wins, including six finishes in the first round. The former Invicta FC featherweight champion has built a 3-2 record in the UFC, losing to Holly Holm and Felicia Spencer.
All three of her wins in the octagon have been first-round finishes: knockouts of Cat Zingano and Norma Dumont, and a submission victory over Zarah Fairn. For all intents and purposes, Anderson is looking to absolutely shock the MMA world by de-throning, arguably, the most dominant fighter, man or woman, in UFC history.
Anderson is a tall and long striker with an aggressive and violent style. She does some of her best work in the clinch, where she can land knees to the body and elbows up top. She is huge for this division and is extremely strong. She dominates position along the fence, and has good technique on her hip tosses and outside trips.
A purple belt in jiu jitsu, Megan has three submissions in her career, though she likely won’t be looking to get this fight to the ground. Her long limbs allow her to slip in leg hooks on the ground and either gain top mount or take opponents’ backs with relative ease. She is as vicious on the ground as she is on her feet, throwing elbow after elbow and causing significant damage to her opponents.
On her feet, Anderson offers a variety of effective strikes. He has a great straight right hand, and her long legs allow her to put kicks on her opponents’ chins quickly. She’s a switch-stance fighter with excellent technique, patience and poise. She usually gives her opponents few different looks and reads their reactions before pressing forward and looking to land power shots.
She doesn’t throw a lot of combinations because she usually doesn’t have to. She looks to catch her opponents moving forward by setting them up with feints and head movement, and land big power shots, as opposed to throwing high-volume combinations. Her punching vocabulary isn’t excellent, but it is effective due to the power that she possesses.
Power seems to be the theme of this fight, as Nunes is also a violent striker who throws with intent. There are two significant attributes to Nunes’ striking: speed and power. Nunes is a forward-moving fighter who catches her opponents and the end of quick, long, wide punches. She puts her opponents under pressure and forces them to make quick, split-second decisions, with the consequence being her lead hook or her deadly overhand right.
One of her go-to setups is her rear leg calf kick. She throws it well to the inside and outside, very quickly and with a lot of power. While the calf kick seems to become more and more prevalent in MMA with every passing UFC card, Nunes was one of the first and still is one of the few women in the sport who throw it often and with power. When she lands it, her opponents usually stumble, and she catches them with a jab and a following right hook or overhand.
Nunes holds such power in her hands that her opponents often become preoccupied worrying about them, forgetting that Amanda’s high kicks are some of the best in either of the divisions she currently reigns over. Holly Holm was a victim of one of these head kicks, but it may be a challenge for Nunes to reach Megan’s head accurately with her round kicks, due to the height and reach discrepancies between them.
A jiu jitsu black belt with excellent wrestling skills, Nunes is a beast on the ground. She has an advanced variety of submissions, great top control skills, smooth transitions and nasty ground and pound. She is an imposing presence and is almost always stronger than her opponents. Grappling is going to be a significant advantage for Nunes in this fight, as Anderson has been dominated on the ground by lesser skilled grapplers before.
I’ve tried to keep this short, as it’s difficult to find value on a fight featuring a quadruple-digit moneyline favorite. At time of writing, Nunes is -400 to finish the fight, even money to win by knockout, and +175 to win by submission. Nunes has rarely faced adversity in the last seven years, but the opponents who have taken her the deepest into her fights over that span have been long, strong kickboxing-dominant fighters, like Anderson.
A good and recent example is Germaine De Randemie, who narrowly survived a first-round onslaught from Nunes, before having some strong moments of her own in the second, and eventually taking Nunes to a decision. It is yet to be seen if Anderson can walk through the kind of abuse that De Randemie took in that first round, but she has been submitted before.
De Randemie actually ended up with a slight striking advantage at points in that fight, as I believe Anderson may be able to in this one. Nunes was forced to implement a grappling-intensive gameplan, which could be great news for the bet I have in mind, if this fight goes similarly.
Anderson can fight well off her back, moving into funky but safe positions while threatening leg locks, triangles and armbars. If she lands a few standing shots early, Amanda will take the fight to the ground, and it could very easily last well over seven and a half minutes. Over 1.5 rounds is -130 at time of writing and any time I can get those odds on an over in a women’s fight, even between these two murderers, I’ll take it with confidence. Nunes by submission is a fun value play, but Megan more probably gets caught with a counter-bomb somewhere more towards the middle of the fight.