Kyle Terada – USA TODAY Sports
Legitimate stopping power in women’s mixed-martial-arts on the highest level is rarely seen, whether that be as low as atomweight, or as high as featherweight. We have the standouts of course, the decorated Brazilian strikers Cris Cyborg, and two-weight world champion Amanda Nunes. At UFC 245 this weekend, Nunes meets a former-foe who shares the entirely similar ability to stop an opponent with a single strike; Dutch kickboxing talent, Germaine ‘The Iron Lady’ de Randamie.
Nunes holds the trump card over de Randamie following they’re 2013 meeting, where the Brazilian handed de Randamie her first and only Octagon defeat. That meeting occured almost seven years previous, and the leaps and bounds both competitors have made in that time are staggering. Nunes has scored eight wins in nine, in a gold laden period which seen her become the bantamweight and then featherweight champion. Utrecht native de Randamie has won five in a row, including a dubious inaugural featherweight championship triumph over Holly Holm.
An awful lot has been made of de Randamie in recent years, in particular, her apparent reluctance to defend the 145-pound title against the aforementioned Cris Cyborg. de Randamie was met with a chorus of boos and jeers after her UFC 208 unanimous decision over Holm, namely due to two occasions in which the Dutch striker landed heavy blows on Holm after the buzzer.
Immediately, UFC colour-commentator, Joe Rogan, posed the question to de Randamie about a possible meeting with Cyborg, with the 35-year-old swerving a definitive answer, citing a hand injury. Not an ideal way to win over the mixed-martial-arts community after a highly contested inaugural championship victory. de Randamie was subsequently stripped of the championship, in one of the most dissappointing reigns the promotion has seen.
The following November, de Randamie would return to bantamweight, in a pairing with future division title challenger, ‘Rocky’ Raquel Pennington. The Ultimate Fighter alumni had just lodged a career highlight victory over former 135-pound champion, Miesha Tate, but a streniuous weight cut led to a missed limit and an overall underwhelming performance. Out-landing Pennington at a comfortable clip and also defending eight separate takedown attempts, de Randamie once again catapulted herself into championship contention.
Evidence of de Randamie’s previously noted knockout power, came in a timely fashion against next opponent, the then undefeated, Aspen Ladd. Another botched weight cut in the blue corner followed, as the Dutch kickboxer landed a one-punch knockout in a mere sixteen second contest. A beautifully timed straight right forced Ladd to the canvas before a follow up strike ended the bout. The victory earned de Randamie the #1 rank at 135-pounds, and ultimately, a rematch with Amanda Nunes.
46-0 as a kickboxer, along with four world championship wins. The striking talent of de Randamie should not be underestimated. The CSA Holland trainee managed thirty knockouts, and famously, knocked out Tom Waes in a boxing match. Simply put, de Randamie is a hugely dangerous prospect to any opponent willing to stand with her, including Amanda Nunes. There’s an air of invincibility surrounding Nunes recently, further instated after her one-round beating of Holly Holm. The Brazilian has beaten each and every former or current female UFC champion, an incredible feat.
Nunes has started aggressively against Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg as of late, and particularly in the matchup with her Brazilian counterpart, hurt Cyborg early, leading to the reckless exchanges shared between the two inside the opening minute and a half. Cyborg has relaxed her aggression considerably in the last few years under Jason Parillo, and has become somewhat of a counter striker. Against Nunes, de Randamie can’t afford to abandon a counter-heavy game-plan.
The 35-year-old timed Holly Holm expertly in their controversial meeting, and must do the same when paired with Nunes once again this weekend. The possibility of grappling exchanges offer quite the worrying prospect for de Randamie. Nunes, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, submitted Miesha Tate in the main event of UFC 200 via rear-naked choke to become bantamweight champion.
In a career that’s as impressive as Amanda Nunes’, there’s very little left to achieve, but a second victory over de Randamie further seals her legacy. For Germaine de Randamie, it’s an opportunity to follow in Nunes’ laid out path and become a two-division world champion and score the biggest victory in her professional career to date.