The UFC has a number of current star fighters who might not return for future fights, including Conor McGregor and Jon Jones, but another name joining that list for different reasons could be Amanda Nunes… The same Amanda Nunes that’s currently the champion in both the women’s bantamweight and women’s featherweight divisions, meaning her retirement would put the UFC in a bad spot in multiple places.
After all, Nunes just defended her featherweight title at UFC 250 and is the largest draw on the women’s side of the sport right now, surpassing others such as Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg during her eleven fight winning streak. And the featherweight division which Nunes recently defended her crown in is less appealing without her in it, lacking the same star power in the rest of the rankings.
So it’s safe to say that when Dana White learned of Nunes’ talk about possibly retiring at this point, he wasn’t happy.
“I will kill her… I literally just told Sean [Shelby] and Mick [Maynard] in the last meeting, ‘Let’s get this division built for her. Let’s build this division for her, and let’s start figuring this out. And now she’s talking about retiring?” White said on the Schmozone Podcast.
There’s not a comparable talent on the featherweight roster to Nunes. Cris Cyborg was just about the only name favored over Nunes at 145 lbs, but she would end up knocked out within the first round against Nunes and is now in Bellator rather than the UFC. Felicia Spencer was able to survive five rounds without getting finished, but still lost her recent title challenge by unanimous decision.
That leaves a big question: who would replace Nunes as the face of both the women’s bantamweight and women’s featherweight divisions if she does go through with her possible ideas about retiring?
The answer isn’t clear to the fans and it doesn’t seem like it’s clear to Dana White, either.
“You know how I always say, ‘If you’re talking about retiring, you probably should.’ Unless you’re where she’s at. In this time, when I got guys crying about money, one of our female fighters, who could go on and keep doing this for a long time, is saying, ‘Maybe I retire now.’ She’s got plenty of money and she can do it,” White continued.
It hasn’t been a good few months for the UFC when it comes to the business side. The league is already suffering financially from lost ticket sales, and at the same time, it could lose talents such as McGregor, Jones, Jorge Masvidal, and now Nunes. The bantamweight belt is still vacant, and it looks like Henry Cejudo will remain retired.
The UFC has always had something of a star power problem, where the league doesn’t create as many marketable star athletes as others such as the NFL and NBA, but that problem could get a lot worse this year depending on how things go. And depending on what happens, this specific situation could cast doubt on the future of an entire division.