Yesterday, in a heartfelt Instagram post, reigning women's Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes apologized to former champ Ronda Rousey for some recent comments she'd made about her and her future.
"Let me take a moment to explain myself," Nunes wrote. "I was overwhelmed with adrenaline, emotion and hurt at the time. I held so much in during the weeks prior to my fight with Ronda. I might have said or posted some things at the time that I now realize was not the right thing to do. I want to apologize to Ronda. Her fans and mine and the UFC as well. Ronda is an amazing athlete and has done so much for this sport, especially for the women. #respect"
Fired up after her knockout victory over Rousey at UFC 207—which rather decisively halted Rousey's much-hyped comeback campaign—Nunes told the press that Rousey should retire after their fight.
"That's it for her," Nunes said. "For sure she's going to retire. If she wants a rematch, I'm going to do the same thing. She can't take my punches."
Nunes went on to say that "She's a millionaire already. Why does she want to keep doing that? You know, keep hurting herself" and "You can't be champion forever, and she has to retire."
None of which was particularly cruel, especially given that the champ had spent the entire lead-up to her first title defense standing in the shadow of her opponent's ostensibly glorious return. And none of which was inaccurate, either.
After weeks of being treated like the Jan to Rousey's Marcia Brady by fans, the media (and Fightland was guilty of this, too) and even the UFC itself, Nunes had every right to be frustrated. And she had every right to celebrate the fact that she knocked Rousey the fuck out. Given the context, her remarks were downright pragmatic and temperate.
That said, an apology like this—clearly thoughtful and genuine, apparently done with no external pressure or motive other than Dana White's admission that Rousey will likely retire—is an incredibly classy move, and one more example of what an intriguing champion and rising UFC star Nunes is becoming.
Nunes allows her fists (and other limbs) to do the majority of the talking, but she's also wry and funny. She looks cool and slightly unnerving in her lion mask. She is imminently GIF-able when she celebrates—and gleefully shares the spotlight—with her girlfriend, UFC fighter (and, according to Nunes, future Strawweight Champion) Nina Ansaroff.
At a time when even the most awkward and mealy-mouthed fighters are trying and failing to follow in Rousey and Conor McGregor's sass-mouthed footsteps to earn fights on spectacle, there's something refreshingly old school about her approach. She's a good fighter who happens to have a personality and a personal code of honor that she clearly sticks to. She's not just a thrill to watch in the cage, she's an excellent ambassador for the sport.