By Philip O’Connor
(Reuters) – Two-weight champion Amanda Nunes puts one of her UFC titles on the line against Germaine de Randamie on Saturday and former UFC fighter Liz Carmouche has told Reuters that the promotion should be doing more to make the Brazilian brawler a bigger star.
Carmouche lost the first-ever UFC bantamweight title match in 2012 to Ronda Rousey, who went on to become one of the biggest names in the sport, but Nunes ended Rousey’s career with a brutal 48-second knockout in December 2016.
Having won the bantamweight title by defeating Miesha Tate in July of that year, Nunes added the featherweight strap with a superb 51-second knockout of feared fellow Brazilian Cris Cyborg in December 2018 to become a simultaneous two-weight champion.
Many expected the UFC to leverage Nunes, an out gay fighter, the same way they did when Irishman Conor McGregor became the first simultaneous two-weight title-holder, but the organization seems reluctant to push the 31-year-old from Bahia.
“I don’t think they are utilizing Amanda in the way they should be, nor are they really publicizing the fact, the accomplishment she’s been able to make by being a two-time world champion in two different divisions,” Carmouche, who is also gay, said in a Skype interview.
“They’re not looking to market and reach out and give back to the (gay) community in the ways they used to be,” she added.
Carmouche, who was controversially cut by the organization a week ago while on a UFC promotional tour to Washington D.C., says that women in mixed martial arts have come a long way since she faced off against Rousey.
“Within the UFC there was still a discussion about whether women were going to be allowed to fight. Fast-forward and we now have all these weight classes and women are putting on the best shows and the best performances in every fight,” the 35-year-old said.
A military veteran, Carmouche’s last fight was a flyweight title bout against Valentina Shevchenko which she lost by unanimous decision, but the jiu jitsu black belt has no intention of retiring, despite being cut by the UFC.
“All the other major MMA organizations have been in touch, so we’re trying to find a tempo that fits into my lifestyle. I want to fight more often than just once or twice a year,” she said.
Amanda Nunes puts her bantamweight belt on the line against De Randamie at UFC 245, which takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Toby Davis)