Because of the shallow nature of the barely existing UFC women’s Featherweight division, Felicia Spencer did indeed earn her title shot based on the strength of defeating the other two women still in it.
Few expected the fight to go well for the massive underdog, but it’s hard to imagine a worse beating (watch the highlights here). Spencer’s face was destroyed, her leg kicked to pieces, and her body punished. Spencer deserves all the credit in the world for her toughness and grit, but not a single thing went her way.
Amanda Nunes is indeed a nearly unstoppable “Lioness,” and Spencer was thrown into her den without proper preparation. There are a few responsibilities assigned to an MMA team, and from my perspective, Spencer’s team came up short on pretty much all of them.
First and foremost, fight teams are designed to produce skilled fighters in good shape. Spencer’s jiu-jitsu is solid, but her punching technique leaves a ton to be desired, and it hasn’t improved since her debut. She pushes arm punches, and as a result offered no real threat to Nunes. Speaking of arms, Spencer does not have the physique of an athlete with a real strength and conditioning program.
Another responsibility of a professional fight gym is to provide adequate tactical advice, both ahead of the fight and during it. On both accounts, Jungle MMA appears to have failed. Spencer was never going to present Nunes the least bit of trouble on her feet, so the only thing they should have focused on was spamming takedowns, hoping that Nunes tired or slipped eventually.
Instead, Spencer spent too much time striking. Her corner did mention takedowns, but this advice came intermixed with nonsense about flying teeps. Have you ever seen a successful flying teep knockout in UFC? Do you believe for a second that Spencer had the athleticism to actually hurt Nunes with a flying teep if by some miracle it landed?
Finally, it’s a fight teams job to keep their athletes safe. For the second time in less than a month, we were forced to witness a silent beating that grew ever more difficult to watch. Silent, barring the repeated thuds of Nunes’ right hand crashing into her opponent’s skull or the sound of Spencer’s body slamming into the canvas.
Spencer’s corner should have saved her before the fifth round. It hardly matters that Nunes showed mercy and allowed her to cling to the guard and survive the fifth. It was unnecessary, as the bout was over long ago.
Spencer’s team failed to prepare her for Amanda Nunes and then allowed her to take unnecessary damage. Check out their current roster on Tapology — does this look like a gym ready to train a fighter for the most difficult challenge possible?
All this may seem overly harsh, but it’s important to remember that combat sports are no game. We’re talking about potentially life-changing damage. I’m not arguing that she has to abandon her home base entirely, but there are numerous high-level gyms in Florida that Spencer could have visited.
She should still probably make the trip to one of them.
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