Did Amanda Nunes' UFC 289 performance hurt or help her legacy?

Jun 10, 2023; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Amanda Nunes celebrates her victory by decision against Irene
Jun 10, 2023; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Amanda Nunes celebrates her victory by decision against Irene / Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Amanda Nunes retired after defeating Irene Aldana via unanimous decision.

The ending to UFC 289 in Vancouver was bittersweet. After defending her UFC bantamweight title against Irene Aldana in the main event, Amanda Nunes laid her gloves down on the canvas next to her belts, ending one of the greatest careers in MMA.

What preceded her farewell was five rounds of domination. Fans expected Aldana to challenge and perhaps upset the champion. Instead, she appeared passive throughout the course of the fight. Nunes started off cautious, aware of her challenger's boxing. Soon enough, the champ began outclassing Aldana, landing just one less significant strike than Aladna threw with 142 against Aldana's 41.

Despite Aldana's refusal to engage, Nunes managed to dominate and win via landslide on the cards. This was Nunes' 11th victory in her past 12 fights, all of which were championship bouts.

What does Amanda Nunes' victory at UFC 289 mean for her legacy?

The answer is simple--it cemented it. Whispers about Nunes' retirement were present leading up to the fight. For her to go out while she's on top of women's MMA is the best way to close the script.

Nunes' resume speaks for itself; The only woman to simultaneously hold belts in two divisions in the UFC. Wins over some of the greats, including Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, Chris Cyborg, and Ronda Rousey. The undefeated run from 2015 to 2021 when she dominated both divisions. Apart from her speedbump against Julianna Peña in 2021, her championship run was nothing short of amazing.

What makes her greatness even more evident is the hole she leaves now that she's stepping away. While the women's strawweight and flyweight divisions are doing well, Nunes has been the pillar holding the bantamweight and featherweight divisions for over the past five years. With her departure, talks of the featherweight division vanishing have surfaced. Meanwhile, the top dogs in the bantamweight division are left without a goat to chase and are forced to focus on one another.

To say Nunes left big shoes to fill does not suffice. It will be a while before we see another fighter of her caliber, possibly never.

"Tonight is the perfect night to retire," Nunes said. "And live happy forever." The MMA community could not agree more. We will surely see her inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in the near future.

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