Amanda Nunes has shed light on what went wrong in her preparation for Julianna Peña at UFC 269 this past December.
Nunes was submitted by Peña via second-round rear-naked choke in what is widely considered one of the greatest upsets in UFC history. The former UFC bantamweight champion alluded to pre-fight injuries factoring into her performance that night. She told UFC color commentator Joe Rogan during her post-fight interview she ‘fought with a couple things’ she thought were fixed.
It turns out those ‘couple things’ were knee injuries suffered in training camp. Nunes spoke to Marc Raimondi of ESPN about them recently and revealed that because of their severity, she was urged to withdraw from the fight and use the time to recover. However, her concern was that with a second deferral (Nunes vs. Peña was originally scheduled for UFC 265), an interim championship would be introduced in her absence — a scenario she wanted to avoid.
“I made a mistake, a huge mistake,” said Nunes. “A lot of things went wrong in my camp, and I still moved forward with the camp. I didn’t want to let the fight fall through. Nina [Nunes] was trying to tell me like, ‘Listen, if we have to pull out of this fight to get 100 percent, we can do that.’ But I didn’t listen to her. I wanted to fight.
“I let the fight fall through once because I got COVID and I didn’t want to let the fight fall through again,” continued Nunes. “So that pressure not to fight once again and then [if] the UFC put an interim belt and that was giving me a hard time to let that fight go. So I didn’t think that would’ve been right for me to let an interim belt be put out there. And because of that, I decided to fight. But a lot of things went wrong, I had a hard time to keep training. Sometimes we make mistakes and I paid that night. It is what it is. Sometimes you get things wrong to get things right the next time.”
Because of the knee injuries, the ‘Lioness’ shifted her focus to what she could do. That meant other components of her preparation were unused, but Nunes thought she could still fight to the best of her abilities.
“I had both knees pretty bad,” said Nunes. “I sprained that I won’t be able to recover. I was in and out of the doctor, doing a lot of repairs to see if I’d be able to at least get a good, solid camp, and I wasn’t. I was doing whatever was possible to move forward in the camp, using only my arms and doing things with the upper body so I could really be able to step into the cage. I convinced myself that I was good and I paid.”
UFC 277 goes down on Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The rematch between Peña and Nunes serves as the headliner.