Amanda Nunes already has her place in the history books. She will go down as the greatest women's MMA fighter of her time with wins over every notable fighter of the era in the 125, 135 and 145-pound weight divisions. Her return on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 250 was more of a sparring match than actual fight as she dismantled Felicia Spencer over 25 grueling minutes, at times seeming to just play with her opponent.
The fight did little to add to the resume and accomplishments, but it is yet another former Invicta FC champion in Nunes' trophy case.
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Nunes' place in the sport, and in both divisions where she holds championships, is one of the main takeaways coming out of the event, but it's not the only one. The bantamweight division, suddenly lacking a champion, received plenty of attention, and three men made big statements as to their place among 135-pound fighters.
Let's take a look at three big takeaways from a top-to-bottom exciting pay-per-view event.
Amanda Nunes might be too good: The problem with an all-time great fighter is that sometimes the division doesn't match up to their greatness. Nunes appears to have that problem across two divisions. She has wins over every woman to ever hold the championship in both the bantamweight and featherweight divisions, and that means she has plowed through anyone in the sport with any degree of starpower. Now what?
The fight with Spencer wasn't compelling on paper. The news that someone bet $1 million on Nunes to win $166,000 was hardly worth a second thought, it was little more than a nice investment opportunity. And the action in the Octagon was only interesting in how much punishment Spencer was able to take and continue gamely trying to make something happen. These aren't fights worthy of Nunes' skills. But what else is there? She can keep fighting and dominating the best available opponents, but if no one is interested, that only leads to more nonsense about her drawing power as a star. It's the curse of being that much better than everyone else in the game.
Henry Cejudo's retirement may be the best thing for bantamweight: Cejudo's vacating of the bantamweight championship came as a shock. And it's true that this may be nothing more than a long-game play in a negotiating battle with the UFC. But what the sport has been left with is a compelling 135-pound division that feels more interesting than it has in years. UFC 250 alone sawby running through Cory Sandhagen in less than 90 seconds, as a contender with a shocking knockout of Raphael Assuncao and of Eddie Wineland.
Those three men, along with Marlon Moraes, Jose Also and Petr Yan make for a deep, competitive division with the potential to stay that way for years. Without the "King of Cringe" in the mix, the division feels more interesting and fresh than it was with Cejudo "hunting legacies" while the best of the best were left spinning their wheels.
Keep the small Octagon: If recent weeks have shown anything, it's that the 25-foot Octagon is a fighting surface that invites action. The size of the UFC Apex facility has forced the promotion to use the smaller Octagon instead of the standard 30-foot cage. The smaller cage has historically led to an increase in the amount of strikes thrown and an increase in action. That showed again Saturday with almost every fight on the card delivering solid action.
Fighters may prefer the bigger cage because it provides more space to work technique and apply a strategic approach, but for fan-friendly fights, the small cage is the way to go. Maybe after the pandemic, the UFC will stick with the smaller cage that was a big focus on why the WEC was such a beloved promotion among fight fans.