Amanda Nunes’ biggest career defeat came on the heels of one of her worst training camps.
The former two-division UFC women’s champion recently opened up about the struggles she experienced leading up to her massive upset loss to Julianna Peña back at UFC 269 in December 2021.
Nunes (21-5 MMA, 14-2 UFC), who lost the UFC women’s bantamweight title that night in Las Vegas, said she was badly hurt heading into her sixth title defense and was even advised to withdraw from the match.
“A lot of things went wrong in my camp and I still went ahead with camp,” Nunes told ESPN. “I wasn’t going to let the fight go down. Nina (Nunes) was always trying to tell me like, ‘Listen, if we have to pull out of this fight to get 100 percent, we can do it.’ But I didn’t want to listen.”
Nunes was adamant about staying in the fight, having previously pulled out due to testing positive for COVID-19 from the original booking against Peña, which was scheduled for August at UFC 265. She did not want to see an interim belt in division and felt pressured to continue the match.
“I let the fight fall through once because I had COVID and I didn’t want to let the fight fall through again,” Nunes said. “Then the pressure of not fighting again and the UFC putting a temporary belt on it made it difficult for me to let go of the fight. So I don’t think it would have been right for me to have a temporary belt put out. So that’s why I decided to fight. But many things went wrong and I had a hard time training. Sometimes we make mistakes and I have paid for that. It is what it is. Sometimes you get things wrong.”
Nunes revealed that she was injured and the nature of the injury did not allow her to do her cardio that she used to prepare for.
“Both of my knees were pretty bad,” Nunes said. “I sprained myself that I’m not going to be able to recover. I was in and out of the doctor and doing a lot of repairs to see if I could at least get a good solid camp and I wasn’t. I did whatever was possible to get into the camp, using only my arms and only doing upper body. … I convinced myself that I was good and I paid.”
Nunes has an opportunity to right the wrong. She returns on Saturday in a rematch against Peña for the women’s bantamweight title in the main event of UFC 277 in Dallas, Texas. Nunes vows to get back what was once hers.
“I want to be a champion again, this is what drives me forward,” Nunes said. “And I’m a fighter, I can’t do anything else. I have to be positive and I have to keep moving forward in my career. This opportunity is to get my belt back and I don’t let anything doubt me. Actually I started losing the belt again.”