Former bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes has revealed that a troubled training camp due to knee injuries and a battle with Covid were to blame for her not being at her best during a shock upset loss to Julianna Pena late last year.
“The whole camp for this fight, of course it was a mess,” Nunes told ESPN. “I always want to put in my head, ‘It’s OK. I can do this.’ [Fighters] are like that, we want to go through whatever to step in that cage. The first fight fell through after I got COVID, and then I went through a couple issues. I wasn’t able to show up to the gym every day at 100 percent, but I didn’t want to let that fight go again.”
Nunes suffered injuries to both her knees prior to the Pena fight and it left her unable to train her complete MMA game, while also affecting her ability to reach full fitness ahead of her title defense.
“I couldn’t do much jiu-jitsu, wrestling,” Nunes said. “I felt it in my warmup [on fight night]. My body and especially my arms. Everything in that camp was arms. I was only doing boxing. Everything I only did upper body. When I was warming up I was like, ‘That’s not how my body is.’ I’ve been in this game a long time. Five years with the belt, five years without. My body has never felt like that.”
Now Nunes will get a chance to avenge that loss when she heads into a rematch with Pena later this year, but first the two are confirmed to be squaring up as rival coaches on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
And when they do finally get locked into the Octagon together again ‘The Lioness’ is convinced that she will emerge victorious.
“We all know I’m better than her, we all know I didn’t show up that night,” Nunes said. “Don’t get me wrong, I feel like Julianna is a great fighter but she’s not better than me. I’ve fought a lot of girls better than her in my best shape and still walked away with my belt. So, with Julianna, this rematch will be different.”