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Currently taking up the final three spots in the UFC women’s bantamweight division top ten, the trio of Amanda Nunes, Bethe Correia, and Jessica Andrade has been setting the standard for female MMA fighters from Brazil, and they’re only getting better with each passing fight. But only one of the three – the number eight-ranked Nunes – has taken her show on the road in order to give herself the best shot at becoming a champion. And that wasn’t an easy decision.

“I came here to get better,” Nunes, who has made her home in the United States for the last three years, said. “I found a good gym to train in, a good manager, and everything is better in my life. Here there are more shows and you have more opportunities to fight.”

Living in Miami, Florida, where she trains with the MMA Masters team, Nunes left her family behind in Bahia to chase her dream of a world title, but even though she’s not in Brazil, everything she does is for her family and home country.

“Amanda’s very, very close with her family,” Charles McCarthy, a UFC vet and Nunes’ manager, said. “For her, the difficulty in leaving home is really being away from her family. But she’s using this as a way of establishing something that she can bring home to her family in Brazil.”

Unbeaten in two UFC fights – first-round TKOs of Sheila Gaff and Germaine de Randamie – the 26-year-old Nunes looks like she’s starting to reach the potential so many saw in her as she ripped through her early opponents. Losses to Alexis Davis and Sarah D’Alelio in 2011 and 2013 slowed the hype train a bit, but when she got to the UFC, she looked like the ferocious fighter her nickname “The Lioness” says she is.


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