It appears that a superfight with reigning featherweight champion Cristiane Justino is no longer the main priority for Amanda Nunes.
After “Cyborg” dispatched Yana Kunitskaya in the UFC 222 main event on March 3, Dana White hinted that he would push for Justino vs. Nunes next. Despite those claims from the UFC president, a rumored showdown between Nunes and Raquel Pennington was made official for UFC 224 shortly thereafter.
While Nunes was calling for the fight against Cyborg a while back, now she’s more interested in cleaning out her own division.
“When I texted Dana White that I wanted the fight, it was because I didn’t have nobody in my division. I didn’t even know if I was gonna fight soon,” Nunes said on the UFC “Unfiltered" podcast. “I was concerned with waiting years because I’ve been in that position before, waiting so long for a fight, and I don’t want to do it again. I don’t want to stay here waiting, waiting, waiting.
“But now, we have Rocky [Pennington] and we have the Brazilian, Ketlen [Vieira] and I feel like my division is starting to grow. If you pay attention, the division’s gonna be awesome and now I have two. I have Rocky and I have Ketlen. Rocky is my next step and I want to see Ketlen after, for sure.”
Nunes’ bout with Pennington is set for May 12 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro. Pennington will be returning after more than a year layoff, but “Rocky” has compiled a four-fight winning streak that includes victories against Miesha Tate and Jessica Andrade.
Vieira, meanwhile, was impressive in earning a split decision against former bantamweight title challenger Cat Zingano in her last outing at UFC 222. The 26-year-old Brazilian is 4-0 in the Octagon and 10-0 as a professional and looks to be a serious contender at 135 pounds. The win over Zingano, who once defeated Nunes, caught the reigning champion’s eye.
“I think she’s deserving, after this fight against Rocky,” Nunes said of Vieira. “She beat the girl that beat me. I think she’s ready and I’m excited to fight her.”
As for Justino, Nunes believes negotiations for that bout could be complicated. That’s why she would prefer to face Pennington and then Vieira after that.
“There’s gonna be a lot of things involved in that,” Nunes said. “Having the contract for her, for me, it has to make sense for both of us so we can do this. It’s nothing personal against Cyborg. I know she’s Brazilian. She talks about because we’re Brazilian we’re not supposed to fight. When you become a professional fighter, you want to become the best, you want to beat the best.
“It’s nothing personal but I feel like there’s a lot of things involved in that and I don’t want to wait for that. I want to keep fighting, I don’t want to wait to negotiate. Right now my division has a new contender and I’m excited for that. Whatever happens after that, we’ll see.”