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UFC's Amanda Nunes says being champion means more to her than Ronda Rousey's fame

Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times 5 days ago Lance Pugmire

Amanda Nunes is the one wearing the UFC women's bantamweight belt, not Ronda Rousey.

But Nunes understands the perception, and now she's intent on underlining the reality.

"I don't have the same visibility yet," Nunes said Monday, following the UFC announcement last week that Brazil's Nunes (13-4) will make her first title defense Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas versus Rousey in the UFC 207 main event.

"People still think Ronda Rousey is the best, the most dominating fighter in the division. That's why I want to fight her. I want to prove everybody wrong. I'm going to be the best champion the UFC has ever had."

The well-rounded Nunes, 28, became champion in the main event of UFC 200 at T-Mobile, hurting Miesha Tate with punches, then submitting her by rear-naked chokehold in the first round.

"The way I fought that night — the whole camp went exactly like that," Nunes said. "Now, in every fight, I want to bring the best out of me, and my next fight will be better than UFC 200. I'm going to be more powerful, faster, amazing with my ground game and great in my judo blocking. I'm going to be the best and sharpest that people have ever seen."

Amanda Nunes: 'I want to prove everybody wrong.' © Getty Images Amanda Nunes: 'I want to prove everybody wrong.' All that while Los Angeles' Rousey (12-1) will have to answer how 13 months out of the octagon in sometimes extreme seclusion will affect her following the November 2015 second-round knockout loss to Holly Holm.

Nunes provoked Rousey a few weeks ago, calling her out before the fight was confirmed by the UFC.

"She's going to be a little bit off, but I'm still waiting for the best Ronda Rousey," Nunes said. "Whatever she shows me, I'll be ready (and) I think she'll have a hard time because of the time off."

Logic says Rousey would be wise to lessen her focus on striking given how the Holm fight played out and rely on her judo strength, given that it made her a 2008 Olympic medalist and set up her reputation-making arm bar triumphs.

"I think she's going to try to use judo throws and get me on the ground, with just a little striking to get close and take this fight to the ground," Nunes said. "But I don't think she's going to have a shot. She doesn't understand the movement in striking. She's going to be surprised when she tries to grab me.

"For sure, I'm going to use my striking, and whatever's going to happen, will happen — I'm going to be ready for it."

Nunes said the difference in being locked in on being the best fighter in her division should come into play too.

"This is a dream come true for me, and it's not about anything else other than me following my dream. I don't want to be famous. I don't want any of those things Ronda has. I want to be champion, the best in the world," Nunes said. "I'm that now. I have that reward, and now I'm moving forward to helping people."

Nunes elevated her worldwide voice by becoming the first openly gay fighting champion in July, and it's an honour she's comfortable elaborating on.

"Openly gay for me is a normal thing. I've always thought it was normal. (Winning the belt) was the best moment for me to show everyone how normal it is," she said. "I'm not doing anything bad to nobody. I'm happy. People have to respect people's rights and be happy. If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything. Just respect people."

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