Amanda Nunes is getting about as tired of the Ronda Rousey talk as hardcore MMA fans are.
For six months it has been almost impossible for a top-tier women’s MMA fighter to do an interview without getting asked the inevitable question about Rousey.
Ronda was pulverized by former UFC Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm in a match that barely made it out of the first round. That happened at UFC 193 in November.
Since that time, Holm lost her first title defense to frequent Rousey punching bag, Miesha Tate, and now Tate is in the unlikely, but deserved position of defending her new belt against Amanda Nunes at UFC 200.
Nunes certainly has the tools to wrest the title away from Tate in her first defense, and if that happens, MMA Fighting wanted to know if Ronda Rousey was in the immediate future.
“So,” she smiled, “Ronda is not the champion anymore. Ronda has to come after us now.”
While Amanda Nunes’ handling of the question was a gracious way of tackling a variation of the most oft-repeated question — “What about Rousey?” — it was also a gentle reminder of the dividing line between sport and celebrity.
For Amanda, this is about competition. Not movies, not magazine covers, and certainly not Ellen interviews.
From there, she prescribed a way for Ronda Rousey to make her name relevant in MMA once more.
“Come back and fight a few fights to come back to the top, among the best five. I’ll think about Miesha, which is the most important now, and then bring the belt to Brazil, celebrate, and then think about who’s next.”
The response raises an interesting question about Rousey’s position if/when she does finally decide to return to the octagon.
It could be argued that a return within six-to-eight months would have warranted an automatic title shot, with the added stipulation that Rousey gives Holm a shot afterward should she regain the belt.
However, the return that UFC President Dana White was expecting never came to fruition, and now it looks like it could be 2017 before Rousey fights again.
During the gap in between, a lot has happened. Holm got herself choked out at the end of a winning performance against Tate.
Tate stepped up to take on the only sensible challenger in Amanda Nunes following Holm’s loss and Rousey’s MIA status.
If Amanda wins the belt, then you’re looking at three title changes for one division in about seven or eight months.
Factor in the wildcard of Cris Cyborg debuting with UFC, and it would be difficult to continue holding Rousey’s spot open for her.
Much of that confusion could be cleared up by Rousey herself should she choose to make it official and announce the date of her return, but most news coming out of her camp at this point has to do with movies and depression.
That said, Amanda Nunes may not be far off base in saying to Rousey, “You’re not the champion any more, you come to us.”
White, for his part, has gone on record in the past as saying that when Ronda returns it will be for the title. But that was before he went from being certain of her 2016 comeback to having no idea when she would return.
But what do you think, readers?
Is Rousey the kind of athlete who deserves to walk back into a title fight, or should she have to “prove” herself against a top five opponent as Amanda Nunes has suggested?
Furthermore, do you think that Amanda Nunes has what it takes to stop Miesha Tate at UFC 200? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Amanda Nunes Facebook]