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Amanda Nunes' plan for 2 UFC belts? 'We need to start pumping the brakes,' White says

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DENVER – Amanda Nunes’ ambitious plan for a second UFC title may need to wait a little while longer. At least until she’s earned a few more defenses of her bantamweight title.

Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC), who defended her 135-pound title for the first time with a 48-second beatdown of Ronda Rousey (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in December, recently mentioned her interest in moving up to featherweight and trying to collect a second title, a la Conor McGregor.

After all, this past month, UFC officials announced former 135-pound champion Holly Holm (10-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Germaine de Randamie (7-3 MMA, 3-1 UFC) will fight for the inaugural women’s featherweight title at UFC 208, which takes place Feb. 11 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Nunes initially expressed interest in meeting the winner of that fight. But following Saturday’s UFC on FOX 23 event, UFC President Dana White wouldn’t endorse the plan. Not yet, anyway.

“Pump the brakes,” he said. “Pump the brakes.

“Let’s defend the title first. You know what I mean? Let her defend her title first. She hasn’t defended her title. Everybody wants to jump around these days. We need to start pumping the brakes around here.”

Nunes, of course, has defended her belt. The victory over Rousey came after a title victory over Miesha Tate, so the 28-year-old Brazilian actually has one title defense to her credit. White, though, said he wants to see Nunes defend it a few more times before she possibly moves up a weight class. White also hinted at his bad luck launching the division, which could have been a showcase weight class for Invicta FC featherweight champion and UFC catchweight fighter Cristiane Justino. “Cyborg” had been lobbying for a 145-pound division in the UFC, but prior to the Holm vs. de Randamie fight announcement. Justino failed a drug test, which will keep her on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.

“This whole time, I didn’t want to do it,” said White, referring to the UFC’s newest and third women’s division. “I did it. And now here we are in this position, so we’ll see what happens.”

Besides, Nunes, who’s the No. 1 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s bantamweight rankings, has a bantamweight opponent already queued up. In UFC on FOX 23’s headliner, No. 3-ranked Valentina Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), a striker like Nunes, used her underrated submission skills to tap out No. 2-ranked Julianna Pena (8-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC).

Afterward, Nunes, who earned a decision victory over Shevchenko in early 2016, entered the cage, and her featherweight plans seemed to be put on hold.

“The next time I will finish you,” Nunes told Shevchenko. “You know I will beat you.”

“Be careful with your words because they will come back to you,” Shevchenko countered.

The challenger-in-waiting went in more detail in the post-event news conference.

“I know it will be a totally different fight with a totally different result,” Shevchenko said. “Amanda won not because she was stronger than me; it was because maybe I gave her a little bit of a reason to take this victory. I know for sure I’ve been training hard all this time, and every fight I get much stronger and much stronger. That’s why I know I will do my best to take this belt from her. (We can fight) any time. I’m ready right now.”

With the fighters already selling the rematch, White essentially confirmed it’s the next fight to make.

“Shevchenko proved us all wrong,” he said of her win over Pena. “(She’s) a very well-rounded mixed martial artist, and she’s ready for a title fight. Stylistically, I think (Nunes vs. Shevchenko) is a very fun fight.”

For more on UFC on FOX 23, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.



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