Amanda Nunes became Brazil’s first UFC’s bantamweight female champion earlier this summer when she defeated Meisha Tata by submission in the first round at UFC 200.
“It’s a dream come true,” Nunes told Fox News Latino in a recent interview. “I am in shock on how it happened, but I was ready for a title shot and mentally prepared. It was beautiful.”
As for right now, the 28-year-old Brazilian has no title defense lines up, so for the time being she is relishing on being at the top of the mixed martial arts world.
She even has her sights set on the ideal fight: taking on former champion Ronda Rousey.
“She is big in the sport,” Nunes said. “She is the first one to make it happen. Many have been waiting for her. She was a dominant fighter in this division. I think it’ll be amazing to fight her ... It would be a huge fight.”
She wasn’t the only Brazilian to take a belt home that night, as José Aldo defeated Frankie Edgar to win the featherweight title.
Nunes, who trains at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, is also humbled by being the first openly gay champion.
“I want to show everyone that I am happy with my life,” she told FNL. “I want to show that you can do anything you want. I want to help at least one person that saw me by motivating them and showing strength. I think I did my part. Maybe I helped one person get stronger. Love is love, and we have to show that the most important part is love. We have to respect each other.”
Nunes was heavily impacted by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, in which a gunman entered the venue on June 12 and killed 49 people and left more than 50 people wounded. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States, since September 11, 2001.
“I was shocked,” Nunes said. “I was sleeping, and someone woke me up to tell me that the shootings took place. Things like this make me strong … to show everyone that I am gay and it doesn’t matter. I prayed for the families, but I felt sad about the situation.”
In her home country, there are still many people who judge people for being homosexual.
“In Brazil, people are still in shock if you see someone of the same gender holding hands,” Nunes said. “People don’t accept it yet. But I think they are changing. In Brazil, gay people are showing up on television.”
She added, “When I was living in Brazil I had to be careful. In America, it’s different. I can hold my girlfriend’s hand and no one will say anything. America gave me so much power to do that. I am happy.”
Nunes isn’t the only gay fighter in the UFC. Her girlfriend of more than three years, Nina Ansaroff, as well as Jessica Aguilar and Liz Carmouche, are openly gay.
The fighter from Salvador, Bahia, started training in MMA after being inspired by her uncle, who trained in Vale Tudo, a combat Brazilian sport with few rules. She trained jiu-jitsu and expanded from there until her coach presented her the opportunity to fight.