Ex-champ Miesha Tate says Amanda Nunes hits hard enough, doesn't need size to fight Cris Cyborg

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Amanda Nunes (L) connects with a jab on Miesha Tate during their 2016 bout at UFC 200. Tate said Nunes hits hard enough to hurt Cris Cyborg, whom she’ll fight on Dec. 29 at UFC 232 in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

Miesha Tate officially lost her UFC women’s bantamweight championship to Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 in Las Vegas on July 9, 2016, via submission by rear-naked choke. Anyone who saw the fight, however, knows it was Nunes’ overwhelming punching power which really finished Tate.

Nunes has successfully defended her title three times since winning it, blowing out Ronda Rousey, eking past Valentina Shevchenko and stopping Raquel Pennington, but she has signed on for what is certain to be the greatest test of her career.

She will meet featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino for the featherweight title at UFC 232 on Dec. 29 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. A win would make her the first woman in UFC history to hold championship belts in two separate weight divisions.

Tate, who now hosts a radio show, “MMA Tonight” on SiriusXM with ex-UFC fighter Sean O’Connell, is not about to discount Nunes’ chances. After the news broke Wednesday, Tate suggested on her show that it would be a mistake for Nunes to bulk up to try to match Cyborg’s strength and physicality.

Tate said Nunes hits hard enough and should remain trim so as to be better able to move and avoid Cyborg’s sure-to-be-thunderous shots.

“If I’m Amanda, I’m not going to try to put on a lot of size, Sean. I’m going to stick with what is working for me and try to rely on the speed and the fact that I have a slight reach advantage. I want to be the faster person to land the punches. She already hits hard enough to hurt people. She hits hard enough to finish girls and hurt guys and I also think she could really hurt Cyborg if Cyborg doesn’t respect the fact that Amanda does have power. She’s not going to be able to walk through it like she has on a lot of the other women that she’s fought.”

Tate went on to say that staying lighter would enable Nunes to be quicker and avoid getting caught in a clinch with Cyborg. She couldn’t emphasize enough, though, how hard Nunes punches.

“I’m telling you, for a 135-pound female, that woman packs a punch. It felt like a dude punched me in the face when I fought her. She’ll forever have my amazement for how she packs that power into such an effortless movement. She looks like she’s not throwing hard, but she is. It just connects on the end of the punch and it is so perfect. She is really hard-hitting and when she is going to fight Cyborg, this is going to be one of the first times that Cyborg is going to have to respect the power [of her opponent]. I know Amanda is the smaller woman, and I know Cyborg is the woman to beat, but I’m telling you right now, don’t count Amanda out in this fight because Amanda, when she lands, she lands hard enough to hurt anybody. That is including men and Cyborg, also.”

Cyborg opened as a massive favorite at online sportsbook Bovada. Cyborg is -300, meaning a bettor would earn a profit of $100 for every $300 risked. Nunes is at +230, meaning a bettor who wagered $100 would earn a profit of $230.

But Tate’s endorsement of Nunes’ chances shouldn’t be taken lightly. Not only has she fought Nunes, she’s one of the sport’s most astute analysts and does a great job of breaking fights down.

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