Amanda Nunes laid her two UFC championship belts on the Octagon mat and had the cutman remove her gloves. She put the gloves in the middle of the two titles, kneeled down and cried into the canvas.
On Saturday, after one of her most dominant performances in years, the greatest women’s fighter of all time revealed her retirement at UFC 289 on Saturday in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
“Double champion forever,” Nunes said. “This is the perfect night to retire.”
Nunes defeated Irene Aldana via unanimous decision (50-43, 50-44, 50-44) in the main event of the pay-per-view card, a comprehensive performance in which Nunes won just about every minute. With the victory, Nunes defended her UFC women’s bantamweight title. She is also the UFC women’s featherweight champion. And apparently she will vacate both belts in retirement.
Aldana was a fill-in opponent. Former champion Julianna Peña was supposed to have a trilogy fight versus Nunes on Saturday, but after breaking her ribs she was forced to withdraw.
When asked in the postfight news conference what she hoped to most be remembered for, Nunes answered quickly.
“The greatest of all time,” Nunes said. “I did everything. I broke a lot of records.”
Nunes said she knew as soon as she signed the bout agreement to fight Aldana that it would be the final fight of her career. But she didn’t want to bring it up until after she got the job done.
“I just didn’t want to focus on that,” Nunes said. “Focus on my fight. I don’t want to keep talking about retiring all the time.”
As for what’s next, Nunes stated she plans on taking a long break and heading back to her native Brazil for a time. She has been dealing with nerve damage in both legs, she said, an issue that reoccurs every time she fights. Nunes came into the news conference Saturday night with crutches, a typical postfight scene.
But after that time off, Nunes said she’ll get back to her South Florida gym, Lioness Studio, and become a coach. She said she loves the sport too much to disappear.
“I have my gym,” Nunes said. “I have a couple girls there. I’d love to help them to be able to see [MMA achievements], as well. I have a lot to offer. As a double champ, I know a lot. … I’ll be able to make a girl champion, too. If I really work with one girl, I can make her a champion. I know everything about this game.”
UFC president Dana White stated he “wasn’t shocked” that Nunes decided to retire, because of how much money she has made and how much her life has changed over the past 10 years.
“This must be what Amanda wants,” White said in the postfight news conference. “I’m definitely happy for her. Would I like to see her stick around and do some more? Absolutely. I love the kid. She’s been incredible to work with. She’s been such a good human being and great champion.”
White added that the UFC women’s featherweight title and division, which lacks any kind of depth, would “probably” be retired with Nunes’ departure.
Nunes (23-5) regained the bantamweight title in her previous fight, a unanimous decision victory over Peña at UFC 277 in July 2022. Peña had ended Nunes’ UFC women’s record 12-fight winning streak and title reign at UFC 269 in December 2021.
Nunes, 35, has the most wins in UFC women’s history (16); the most UFC title fight wins among women in history (11, tied for the fourth-most in UFC history, regardless of gender, with Anderson Silva); and the most finishes in UFC women’s history (10). The longtime Florida resident has beaten every other competitor who has held the UFC women’s featherweight and bantamweight titles, including Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm. She also owns two wins over former UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, another all-time great.
Aldana (14-6) had won two straight and seven of her past nine fights coming into the bout. The Mexican-born fighter had finished her most recent three wins via KO/TKO. Aldana, 35, has a 7-5 UFC record.
Nunes was in the UFC for 10 years, accumulating a 16-2 record.