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Morning Report: Amanda Nunes says injuries and a poor training camp led to upset loss to Julianna Pena

UFC 269: Amanda Nunes v Julianna Pena
Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Amanda Nunes says that a terrible fight camp and lingering injuries played a key role in her loss to Julianna Peña.

This past December at UFC 269, Nunes lost her bantamweight title to Peña by second-round submission in what was one of the greatest upsets in MMA history. After the loss, Nunes said that she “just checked out” on fight day but now, over a month removed from the bout, Nunes says that her issues began long before she ever stepped into the octagon that night.

“My whole camp for this fight was a mess,” Nunes told ESPN. “I always want to put in my head that I was OK, I can do this, because we (fighters) are like that. We want to go through whatever to step in the cage. My first fight against her fell through, I got COVID, all those things, and in my second fight with her, the camp I went through a couple of issues as well, that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to really show up to the gym every day at 100 percent. But I didn’t want to let that fight go again. I don’t think it would have looked good for me.

“That was, I feel, my big mistake. I didn’t want to look bad letting that fight go once again. I paid for it. I paid for my mistakes. I was supposed to listen to the doctors, I was supposed to listen to my body, and show up how I always do, 100 percent in the gym, full camp, and it was obvious in the fight. I really showed how my camp was and I feel like I paid for it.”

Nunes went on to explain that she injured both of her knees and was unable to effectively train; instead, Nunes said that her preparation was largely focused around striking and keeping her diet in check, since she could no longer run to cut weight.

“Both knees were pretty bad and I wasn’t able to recover and I went through,” Nunes said. “Every time I was training back home, the next day I couldn’t even walk. But I don’t want to make excuses. I did that. I paid for my mistakes, but I want to do a full camp, and I didn’t.

“I needed time off. I could not turn, do all the things that I have to do, like do jiu-jitsu, wrestling. I was pretty much only doing hands, like striking or whatever for conditioning. I only used my arms, so that cost me my belt.”

After a strong opening round that saw Nunes dominate Peña, the challenger uglied the fight up in the second round and eventually hurt Nunes with strikes before eventually securing the rear-naked choke. To most viewers, it appeared that Nunes simply gassed herself out trying to overpower Peña, but the former champion says that it was actually the shots of Peña that were the real problem.

“In the beginning of the second round, I got caught,” Nunes said. “I watched the fight back, and I told Nina (Nunes) I never got caught before, so I never felt (it). I didn’t know how it is, so when I watched the fight back with Nina, I saw that she (Peña) did a Superman punch, which looked like a jumping overhand, something like that, so it got right here (points to behind her left ear) on my head. After that moment, you can see clearly that I lost my balance and everything started to look very bad. So a lot of people say my conditioning. No, when you get caught, if you’ve never had that experience, you don’t know how you’re supposed to feel or handle that moment. So when I felt it, I wasn’t able to recover and everything started getting worse.”

Now, Nunes finds herself in a place that she hasn’t occupied in some time: the blue corner. Nunes and Peña are set to serve as coaches opposite one another on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, after which they will rematch for the bantamweight title. It will be the first time Nunes has been a challenger since she knocked out Cris Cyborg in 2018 to claim the featherweight title and, surprisingly, it’s something Nunes is kind of excited about.

“It actually gives me a different feeling, to chase for something,” Nunes said. “For so long in my career, I was very comfortable and now this is kind of a very good feeling, actually. Because I chase now. I’m chasing for that thing again. It’s kind of motivating me.”


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VIDEO STEW

The MMA Hour.

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Callout.


LISTEN UP

Fighter vs. Writer. Chris Weidman previews UFC 271, discusses return timeline.

Heavy Hands. Breaking down the biggest fights at UFC 271.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

MMA fighters really like to lower the bar.

Book this fight.

Josh Emmett.

Good advice.

Respect.

Retired.

Moving up.

Fight poster.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Adam Borics (17-1) vs. Mads Burnell (16-3); Bellator 276, Mar. 12.

Phil Davis (23-6) vs. Julius Anglickas (10-2); Bellator 276, Mar. 12.

Jay-Jay Wilson (8-0) vs. Gadzhi Rabadanov (16-4-2); Bellator 276, Mar. 12.

Alex Polizzi (9-1) vs. Jose Augusto (7-2, 1 NC); Bellator 276, Mar. 12.


FINAL THOUGHTS

I played rugby in college and as a result, I’ve done probably 100 shoeys in my lifetime, and some of them were out of some truly heinous footwear, but I draw the line at a “cuppy”.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL

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Who wins this weekend?

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  • 23%
    Tai Tuivasa
    (146 votes)
  • 76%
    Derrick Lewis
    (467 votes)
613 votes total Vote Now

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