Two-division champ Amanda Nunes brushes off marketability comments, worries more about helping LGBTQ community


Nearly 16 months after the infamous tweet, Amanda Nunes can only laugh it off and dismiss it. 

Nunes (19-4) had just knocked out MMA women’s pioneer and featherweight queen Cris “Cyborg” Justino in the first round at UFC 232 to become the lone female two-division champion in UFC history. In reference to Nunes’ reign of terror, which included wins over Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Valentina Shevchenko (twice), sports business journalist Darren Rovell posted on Twitter that it was “brutally damaging to UFC” because of Nunes’ supposed lack of marketability. 

It’s a tweet that UFC president Dana White instantly took umbrage with. It’s also one Rovell has attempted to double down on multiple times in the aftermath. Nunes claims she missed the initial hullabaloo surrounding it and never let it bother her once she found out. 

“I’m living my life and actually my life is the best right now,” Nunes told CBS Sports last week. “I can have whatever I want and I can do whatever I want. Nothing is going to change after reading a tweet. There is nothing where a little message is going to change it.”

At 31, Nunes isn’t lying. A champion of two divisions, she has acquired almost universal praise as the greatest female fighter in the sport’s history. Riding a 10-fight winning streak, Nunes is also engaged to UFC strawweight Nina Ansaroff who is expecting their first child in September. 

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Oh yeah, and about Rovell’s notion that Nunes isn’t marketable. Not only does “The Lioness” have an endorsement deal with Modelo, she’s currently juggling so many outside-the-cage projects that she needed to be reminded which one she was on the phone to promote. 

The project in question was an episode of the Quibi show “Iron Sharpens Iron,” in which Nunes was paired with U.S. women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd to share training secrets and mental preparation. Executive produced by NFL star Cam Newton, the episode debuted April 20. 

True to form, however, for a humble fighter who grew up poor in Brazil, a few extra tastes of fame have done nothing to change her perspective. Nor has it driven her to want to gloat in response to the criticism of Rovell or anyone else. 

“It is what it is. If I’m not marketable, I’m not marketable and I’m just going to keep fighting. But I’m a fighter and I’m the best on the planet,” Nunes said. “This is my job. I honestly feel like people don’t understand that and only think about TV and jewelry and all the things outside. That is part of the game but if I do my job and fight and get my paycheck, I get to enjoy my life. 

“I feel like I’m not really one who wants to compete with Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate or whatever. I do my job and outside the cage if it works out for me, I’m grateful and I’m going to do it. But it’s not something where I feel like I have to do this or get this TV show. People think like, ‘Oh, Amanda is doing these things so now everything is going to change.’ The life is not changing, people. You are only being stupid. Life goes on, people live it.”

Not only has Nunes stayed grounded despite her recent commercial success, she also expected it would come if she stayed patient and kept working hard. She regularly credits her coaching staff at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, with helping her grow as a fighter so all of this could be possible. 

“All the work that me and my coaches put into this, we are now getting paid for everything we did then,” Nunes said. “When I do all those jobs, I really want to do the best [whether] it’s fights or in this new life with doing commercials and a bunch of things. Everything that I put my hand on, I want to do the best. I feel like the job paid off.”

Nunes is certainly thankful for the exposure and financial opportunities that have come since the expansion of her personal brand. Yet it’s easy to gauge she’d be just as happy being left alone to perfect her craft and live a modest life. 

A private person by nature, Nunes admits she isn’t a huge fan of social media and was initially against sharing the personal side of her relationship with Ansaroff to the general public. A series of developments, however, began to change that. 

Nunes received countless messages from those within the LGBT community, particularly young people, about how her willingness to live open and proud inspired them to find courage to do the same. But it was the hand-written letters sent to the gym from parents that had the biggest impact.

“They said, ‘Our daughter just talked to us and she was inspired by you and Nina and now we are talking to her about it,'” Nunes said. “That was huge to us and in that moment, we decided to keep doing this and put ourselves out there. I know we have a lot of young girls and young boys who struggle to talk to the father and the mother. Even adults are still struggling to really become who they really be. 

“If I am able to help by putting my life out there so they can see that I’m not afraid of anything and nothing can stop me and nothing is bringing me down, I feel like I am going to help people like that. My relationship with Nina is like, ‘Let’s do this to change the planet and make things happen.’ If we tweet out and openly live our lives, a lot of people are going to change their lives.” 

Nunes is quick to remind that her and Ansaroff live “a pretty normal life” with a house, a newly built nursery and a baby girl on the way. Any nerves of becoming a new mother have been offset by her visions of walking through the park as a family and taking her daughter to school. 

“I can’t wait to have her here; all of those experiences I want to experience,” Nunes said. 

Commercials and sponsorships are great but Nunes isn’t kidding when she says, “I’m either marketable or I’m not. It doesn’t matter.” She has enough wisdom to realize her lasting legacy, for as long as her current celebrity lasts, will have a much deeper impact. 

“We don’t do anything bad to people and we only care about people and loving,” Nunes said. “I feel like that is a huge message to people to help others and make this place a much better place by how we treat people. This is my motivation.”





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