Amanda Nunes (Josh Davis/The MMA Corner)Who is Next in Line for UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes? Christian Larusson July 20, 2016 Events, News, Promotions, Spotlight, UFC Feb. 2013, was the month Strikeforce champion Ronda Rousey was brought over to the promotion as the first UFC female Bantamweight champion to compete, and from that day on, UFC would be showcasing women’s MMA on it’s biggest stage – The Octagon. Ronda Rousey (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting) A little bit more than three years removed from the beginning of female competitors in UFC and another division (strawweight) has been added. The bantamweight title has switched hands three times since it was first introduced, and from having the biggest star – perhaps of the sport (Rousey) – losing the title, it could halt the popularity of UFC with the female fanbase since it is no secret that nobody has ever brought over more female fans than Rousey, and she isn’t really around anymore. When former boxing world champion Holly Holm head-kicked the bantamweight crown down and away from Rousey’s head, Holms’ popularity skyrocketed and she became an overnight sensation, appealing to many fans who wanted a more soft spoken, perhaps more humble champion. Well, as fate has it sometimes, things don’t play out as one perhaps would imagine it would. Less than four months removed from taking the belt from the perceived invincible former champion Ronda Rousey, ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ found herself on the losing end of a title fight to one of Rousey’s biggest rivals, Miesha Tate. Even though the title was moving around, a match-up between any of these three bantamweights should be a fantastic payday for the company and could easily carry a pay-per-view as the main event. Well, the brazilian ‘Lioness’ Amanda Nunes had different plans, and she snagged the belt from Tate, four months removed from the day Tate first got it. Amanda Nunes (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting) Heavy lies the crown. And here we are today, without any of the three most popular females holding on to the title, and none of them are even currently contenders for that strap either. Holly Holm is probably nearest to a title shot in that group, she is fighting on UFC on Fox 20, Jul. 23, against Muay Thai/K-1 world champion Valentina Shevchenko, who has only stepped into the Octagon twice, but don’t get it twisted, this is a closely contested fight on paper and Shevchenko’s opportunity for victory is both on the ground and standing. Looking to the future of the bantamweight contenders for Amanda Nunes, there are three realistic options as of today; Ronda Rousey – If she decides to come back and ask for the title shot, she will get it based on her dominance as the former champion, only losing once, and obviously it is the biggest possible money fight Nunes can be involved in right now. The winner of Holm vs. Shevchenko – Holm has a big following now after her victory against Rousey, and that could trump the rest hoping to get the next crack at the title, plus, it would also potentially set up a huge rematch with Ronda, or if Shevchenko wins impressively, she could be next . . . but it won’t bring in the big bucks. Julianna Pena – Winner of TUF 18, undefeated in UFC after four appearances and following her impressive victory over the woman who has beaten both Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes, in Cat Zingano. If we are basing it all on merit, it is an easy argument to make that Pena is next. But will it bring the same eyeballs that Rousey or Holm? Definitely not. With all these choices, one distinctive difference from how it is now from when Rousey reigned over the division is a number of competitive contenders in line for a title-shot. It might not be the biggest money fight for the division coming up next, but the bantamweight roster was not previously viewed as a competitive division because of the dominance Rousey showed when she ruled over it. That has changed drastically from February 2013. You have to give it to the UFC; they don’t play it safe or pampered their champions record to build them up. At least, not most of the time anyway. At any time, anyone can become the champion, and that’s a big part why people love UFC. Nobody is safe – anything can happen. UFC on Fox 20 will air on July 23, 2016, at the United Center, Chicago, Illinois. We’ll have to wait and see what comes out of that main event between Holm and Shevchenko in hopes to figure out what’s next for the bantamweight title picture.