UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will have her girlfriend, fellow fighter Nina Ansaroff, at cageside as she looks to defend her title Saturday night against Raquel Pennington at UFC 224 in her native Brazil. Nunes, 29, and Ansaroff, 32, have been dating for several years. Ansaroff, who used to fight in Invicta FC, has been a UFC fighter since 2014. Here’s what you need to know about Nina Ansaroff:
1. Ansaroff, Who Has an 8-5 Record, Trains With Nunes at American Top Team in Florida
Nina Ansaroff has an 8-5 record in her professional MMA career, including a 2-2 record in the UFC. She is currently on a two-fight winning streak. She trains with Amanda Nunes at American Top Team in Florida. Ansaroff has defeated Angela Hill and Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger in the UFC and has losses to Juliana Lima and Justine Kish.
Ansaroff began her professional MMA career in 2010 with a win in Crowbar MMA in North Dakota. She then lost three fights in the regional organization, including against two current UFC fighters, Carla Esparza and Barb Honchak, before turning things around in 2012. Ansaroff ran off four consecutive wins on the regional circuit before making her debut, and only, fight in Invicta FC, defeating Munah Holland in 2013. That win earned her a contract with the UFC and she made her debut against Lima in December 2013.
Ansaroff has said the road to the UFC was tough. “Coming from women’s MMA, small shows aren’t doing it for us, and you’re working just barely enough to make ends meet and still have time to train,” Ansaroff told MMAJunkie in 2014. “It’s a hard road. It does affect you. It’s stressful. If I was going to have to work full-time and also train for this fight, I don’t know where my head would be. I don’t want that because this is the UFC, and this is my chance to show what I’ve got. I want to go into this fight 100 percent.”
Ansaroff told UFC Unfiltered in January 2017, “If you look at my record just on paper it looks horrible, but people that know me and people that train with me at American Top Team who are former champions believe in me and encourage me. I know I have it in me. I don’t gas and I stay consistent.”
She has credited her work in the gym with her girlfriend with her recent success in the UFC.
“Man, for her last three fights, she’s called me out, telling everybody that I’m the next champion,” Ansaroff told MMAJunkie in 2015 after her win over Jones-Lybarger. “It’s a little bit of pressure, but she believes in me. I know what I’m capable of. She does too. And it only motivated me to get the win tonight.”
2. They Have Been Dating Since 2012 & Ansaroff Joked That They Take Out Their Frustrations With Each Other During Sparing Sessions
Amanda Nunes and Nina Ansaroff have been dating since 2012. In 2016, they talked about how their relationship made an impact on the LGBT community when Nunes won the UFC Bantamweight championship.
“It actually taught us something as well,” Ansaroff told MMA Fighting. “We never thought of it as something that needed to be recognized other than we just post pictures together, because we’re together. But when we started both getting e-mails from people having difficulty and struggling with sexuality and stuff, it made us realize maybe we need to be a little bit stronger about this to help these people.”
Nunes added, “That night at UFC 200, we were so happy. And then I kissed Nina.” They said they weren’t hiding their relationship, but they were suddenly very much in the public eye.
“It’s an accountability thing, I believe,” Ansaroff told MMA Fighting. “I’m not a representative of the LGBT community. I wouldn’t say that either one of us are like well-educated on it, to be honest with you. We never thought of it more than we just like each other. But it helped us realize that maybe we need to be. If it changes someone or helps somebody, I’m all for it.”
Nunes added, ““There will always be people out there looking up to us,. And both of us show we are happy. We love each other and it’s important for people to see that. Such respect. Love is love. When people realize how love is powerful, this world is gonna be a better place.”
Ansaroff has joked that the couple has a great relationship because they take out their frustrations with each other during sparring sessions in the gym. “We just take everything out in our sparring rounds to be honest,” Ansaroff joked on UFC Unfiltered. “We enjoy being around each other and we are also best friends. We go fishing together and we go training together and sometimes we go a little heavier in the sparring session and then we just smile after.
“It’s not that bad. It really does help [sparring]. The best thing about it is, is that it’s not something that’s ever really talked about,” she added. It’s kinda like you know what’s up, I know what’s up. We get it out in our training and then it’s never left the cage and it’s never left the gym. That’s it. It’s amazing..
Ansaroff and Nunes have talked about marriage and eventually having a child together. They talked with TMZ in May 2017 and said that they’ve already decided Ansaroff will take Nunes’ name, but they said they aren’t engaged yet.
“It has nothing to do with me, I’m not going to ask her,” Ansaroff joked. “So, whenever she does it, maybe I’ll say yes, maybe I’ll say no. I’m going to take her last name.”
Nunes told the Los Angeles Times in 2017, “”We want to marry, but I don’t even know when I’m going to ask her. We’ll see how our life is going. … Having a baby and bringing the baby into your life and filling it with love is a special thing. It is something we want.”
Ansaroff has also talked about their plans to have a baby.
“I’m gonna get the bill within a year and a half, two years. I can pause. Get a baby and then come back. A lot of girls in the UFC already have a baby. There’s a bunch of girls that have babies and go back,” she told ESPN’s Cari Champion in January 2017. “You’re pregnant for eight or nine months, but I was in a really bad motorcycle accident that messed me up way more than a baby would do to my body, so I think I’ll be fine.”
Ansaroff told MMA Fighting in 2016 that they will continue to embrace their position as role models.
“We’re strong enough with our situation, because both our families accept us,” Ansaroff said. “It’s never been an issue. But there are people that are struggling with it. And if this is what we need to do to help them, then we’ll help them.”
3. Ansaroff Was Born in Florida & Began Practicing Taekwando When She Was 6
Nina Ansaroff is a Weston, Florida native. In a 2013 interview posted on the Invicta FC, Ansaroff talked about how she got into martial arts. “My father started me in taekwando when I was 6, but I stopped for a little to pursue soccer.” Ansaroff is a first-generation American. Her father was a professional soccer player in Europe and moved to the U.S. from Macedonia.
Ansaroff now holds a third-egree black belt in taekwondo and a purple belt in BJJ. Ansaroff and Nunes live together in Coconut Creek, Florida. Being close to home has helped Ansaroff’s career move forward, she said in an interview with UFC.com in 2015.
“I moved around a bit because my mind wasn’t really where it needed to be, but now that I’m back I feel great,” she said. “I love being in Miami and near my family and it makes me a better fighter when I am here.”
4. She Began Training in MMA in 2008 to Get Back in Shape After a Motorcycle Crash Put Her in the ICU
Ansaroff began training in mixed martial arts in 2008 after a serious motorcycle crash that landed her in the ICU. She picked up MMA during her recovery as a way to get back into shape and soon excelled in the sport. Ansaroff was in college in Florida at the time. She completed her associate’s degree and was pursuing her bachelor’s in psychology, but cut her studies short because of the horrific crash.
Ansaroff told UFC Unfiltered, “A car ran a stop sign and I fractured my lower back, compounded fractured my wrists, I broke my ankle—it was a really bad accident. I was in ICU for three weeks and after that I got on a motorcycle again just to get rid of the fear you know. Every time a car would pass close I would brace myself you know, I just wanted to get over that. I’ve had a lot of friends die on them and I’ll never got on one again.”
We argue, we punch each other in the face in training, don’t see eye to eye on most things. It’s not easy, but at the end of the day we find peace 🙏🏼 Entre um argumento e outro 🙄 não concordamos em muitas coisas 😬 e nos treino uma bate na cara da outra 👊🏼 + no final das contas encontramos a PAZ 😂👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼❤️
She put on weight while in the hospital and found MMA as a way to get back into shape, not realizing it would put her on a path to the UFC. She was working in a bank and also as a nanny, but soon she made her way into professional fighting.
“I started kickboxing as I child and I knew it kept me in shape,” Ansaroff said. “After the motorcycle accident, it caused me to gain weight, be totally out of shape and lazy because I thought I wouldn’t be able to do much anymore because of all the injuries,” she told UFC Unfiltered. “So I Googled like, ‘kickboxing’ and [American] Top Team came up. I didn’t know what a great gym it was, it was just close to me because I was born and raised in South Florida. I went in there in, took a amateur kickboxing class and Ricardo Liborio approached me and we just went from there.”
She told UFC.com in 2015, before her debut in the organization, “I was working as a nanny for my sister. It was really just to help me out, so I can continue trying to make a run at being a professional fighter, and I’ll be honest with you, for a while there I didn’t believe women’s MMA would ever make it to the point where I could actually make a living fighting. I never thought of fighting as something I wanted to do professionally. Everybody just thought I would play soccer professionally like my father did, but after high school I just got burned out. I had a motorcycle accident and gained a lot of weight during rehab so I took up mixed martial arts as exercise, and I here I am, getting ready face one of the biggest names in women’s MMA.”
5. Ansaroff’s Next Fight Is Set for July 28 Against Randa Markos & She Has Said She is Contemplating a Move to Flyweight
Nina Ansaroff is set to return to the cage herself on July 28 against Randa Markos at UFC on Fox 30 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Ansaroff is currently ranked 14th in the UFC’s women’s strawweight division, while Markos is ranked 11th. Ansaroff will look to build on the momentum she gained in her victories over Angela Hill at UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Pettis and Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger at UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Penn. Ansaroff lost her first two UFC fights but will look to continue her two-fight winning streak.
Ansaroff recently said she has considered moving from the 115-pound strawweight division up to the 125-pound flyweight level. The UFC debuted its women’s flyweight division last year, with Nicco Montano crowned as its champion in December at The Ultimate Fighter finale.
“I’m think of maybe going up to 125,” Ansaroff told MMA Fighting in March. “It’s not an easy decision and I keep going back and forth. My first couple weight cuts were bad, I had some real trouble adjusting to it. But the last couple times, I feel like I’ve come around, I’ve really been able to make it work for me.
She added that it would depend on her opponent. “If it’s a top 10 strawweight, I’ll stay at 115. If its a top five flyweight, I’ll make the move.”
Ansaroff’s girlfriend could also make the move down from the 145-pound level of bantamweight to flyweight, which would put them in the same division. Nunes talked recently about the unlikely situation where the two would be scheduled to fight each other for a title.
She told UFC.com, ““A fight is always a fight. If it’s a rival or a friend, you have to step in and fight and get the job done,” said Nunes. “The thing that motivates me is the belt. I want to keep my belt. It can be a friend in front of me, it can be my girlfriend in front of me. I talked to Nina the other day (and said), ‘If you come up to 135 we’re going to fight.’ It can be my girlfriend in front of me and I’d want to kick her ass and nothing is going to change that because I want to keep my belt at home with me.”