Longtime women’s MMA veteran Shayna Baszler saw a golden opportunity slip through her hands when, as an overwhelming favorite against Julianna Pena on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18, she was upset in the opening round as Coach Ronda Rousey’s star pupil.
Scheduled to face former Strikeforce women’s champ Sarah Kaufman at the TUF: Nations Finale, “The Queen of Spades” was set for a big name bout to prove her worth in the Octagon. But Baszler experienced yet another unfortunate setback when an injury forced her to withdraw from the fight.
Today, a new opponent for Kaufman has been named.
According to Tatame, and it’s none other than surging Brazilian slugger Amanda Nunes, who was last seen destroying Germaine de Randamie with a first round striking stoppage at UFC Fight Night 31 last November. Prior to that, Nunes earned a finish over Sheila Gaff in her UFC debut back at UFC 163.
The No. 8-ranked Nunes was originally slated to face debuting undefeated prospect Alexis Dufresne at UFC on FOX 11 just three days later, but Nunes understandably took the pivotal bout with the No. 5-ranked Kaufman.
Despite her lofty ranking, Kaufman hasn’t been able to do much in the UFC, with her only bout being a controversial split decision loss to Jessica Eye at last October’s UFC 166 that was later turned into a No Contest after Eye tested positive for marijuana.
Other than that, however, Kaufman won four out of her five previous bouts, with her only loss being a first round submission to dominant UFC women’s champ Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey.
The bout will undoubtedly move the winner closer to title contention, but with solid contenders like Cat Zingano and Alexis Davis waiting for their shot at Rousey while rumors continue to swirl about potential blockbusters with “Cyborg” and even Gina Carano, there will still be a big mountain to climb for either Nunes or Kaufman.
Featuring a trash talk-fueled main event between British vet Michael Bisping and former Army standout Tim Kennedy, the TUF: Nations Finale will take place on April 16 from the Colisee Pepsi in Quebec, Canada. Who is your pick to win this battle of Top 10-ranked women’s bantamweights?
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