Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Germaine de Randamie feels she proved a lot in the five rounds she spent with the champ.
The Dutch veteran lost a unanimous decision to Amanda Nunes in a bantamweight title fight at UFC 245 this past December, and though the scorecards were decidedly in Nunes’ favor, de Randamie doesn’t think they told the whole story.
It was Nunes’ grappling that made the difference as she controlled the majority of the fight by grounding de Randamie, an elite kickboxer. At media day for UFC Fight Island 4 on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, de Randamie talked about what she took away from that encounter and how she feels Nunes approached the contest.
“The biggest lesson I learned about myself is that I have to stick to a game plan and I didn’t really stick to a game plan,” De Randamie said. “You know, I came in that night to fight and she came in not to lose.
“I believe honestly I made it easier on her, but I exposed her at the same time and she exposed that I should not be that kickboxer anymore, I should be that MMA fighter. I stood too tall and I learned my lessons, but I’m motivated, I’m here, and we’ll see.”
De Randamie explained that her corner wanted her to stay light on her feet and to use feints to find openings. But once de Randamie found herself face-to-face with the champ, she was determined to score a knockout win. That meant planting her feet and firing, which made it difficult for her to stop Nunes’ takedowns.
She blames herself for “wanting to knock her head off” and notes that she didn’t listen to her corner’s instructions. De Randamie also praised Nunes for adapting and having a high fight IQ, even though de Randamie took little damage in the fight.
“I really rocked her on the feet in the second round,” De Randamie said. “I made it fun in the first round, but I was never in any danger. I had no damage at all even after the fight. I clipped her in the second round and I was like, now I only have to hit her one more time and I’ll knock her out.
“I was too hungry, I stood straight up just like I did in my kickboxing days, I was able to walk everybody down and knock them out. Unfortunately, she did a better job than me. I did exactly what she wanted me to do and she lay on top of me and made it a very boring fight, but she got the job done.”
Without a fight for the past nine months, de Randamie said the UFC simply didn’t send any matchup agreements to sign and then COVID-19 put everyone’s schedules into disarray. On Saturday, she fights fellow top-10 contender Julianna Pena on the UFC Fight Island 4 main card.
Nunes, meanwhile, is set to defend her other belt, the UFC featherweight championship, against Megan Anderson in December. “The Lioness” has won 11 straight fights, including eight consecutive championship bouts. Despite those accomplishments, de Randamie doesn’t believe that Nunes is unbeatable.
“Everybody is human,” De Randamie said. “Everybody is beatable. There’s no such thing as somebody’s not beatable.
“I exposed her. I made it easy on her. I could definitely give her a tougher night, a way tougher night than I gave her. But like I said, she came to fight, she came after the second round not to lose. That’s the big difference between her and me.”
As for Nunes defending the featherweight belt next instead of waiting for the next bantamweight contender, de Randamie said that Nunes can do whatever she wants and that Nunes is guaranteed to be in the UFC Hall of Fame someday.
De Randamie’s upcoming fight with Pena appears to be a classic striker vs. grappler matchup on paper, but “The Iron Lady” doesn’t necessarily see the breakdown as being that simple.
“No, I’m not in trouble when she gets me off my feet,” De Randamie said of Pena’s wrestling. “No, I’m not in trouble. Did you see the damage that Amanda did to me? No, she did not do no damage. Did she submit me? She didn’t submit me, no. This is a fight. Anything can happen. Maybe I submit her. That would be nice, shut everybody up then. I promise if I submit her, I’ll do this (makes shushing gesture). Everybody will be quiet. Anything can happen, this is a fight.
“She can knock me out. I mean, this is still fighting. If she catches me, this is still fighting. Anything can happen. It doesn’t matter who I face. I’ve fought the best and they will all shoot on me. Every fight is the same. Even if I fight a standup fight, even Holly [Holm] tried to shoot on me. Amanda shoot on me, they will all shoot on me, so I fight every time the same fight.”