The former bantamweight champion and current featherweight titleholder recently split with her coaches and training partners at American Top Team, the gym she’s called home for the past seven years.
According to Nunes, there was no bad blood with her now-former team, and the split didn’t necessarily stem from her loss. Instead, it came from a desire to strike out on her own.
“Actually, I always wanted to open a private spot,” Nunes revealed when speaking to media ahead of filming for The Ultimate Fighter Season 30. “I never said I’m going to open a gym to compete against [American Top Team]. That never came out of my mouth.
“But I always wanted to have a little private space for me. Because even at American Top Team, I always did my things separated. I had my time to go, and I had my coaches there waiting for me to help me with my camp. It was always like that.”
The decision to open her own private facility will allow Nunes to do things her way. But she still appreciates the legacy that she built while working at the Florida based facility.
“It was always in my head that one day I might want to have a space,” she said. “I want to see all my teachings on the wall, put up my logo, all those things that a lot of fighters want to do that at some point in their career. I feel like this is the moment for me. I want to go on my own for a little bit.
“American Top Team, together we did amazing things. All the coaches, the gym, the owner Dan Lambert – I feel like we did everything for each other. But now for me, for my head, for now I feel like I should go do what I really want.
“I feel like I deserve to do what I want to do. It’s nothing to do with the gym. Actually, we’re still good. I can still walk in the gym and train whenever I want. I didn’t close the door because [nothing] happened. I did it my way, but we did a lot of things together. We made history together.”
Perhaps the biggest change is her coaching staff as she prepares to coach The Ultimate Fighter and transition into training camp for the rematch against Pena. Former WEC champion Mike Brown had served as Nunes’ head coach during her dominant run through the UFC at both 135 and 145 pounds, but he will be absent when she fights again in 2022.
Nunes will instead team up with some former coaches, who previously worked with her at the main American Top Team facility before moving on to different endeavors.
“Actually that was something that I want to do different, too, but the coaches used to be at American Top Team,” Nunes explained. “It’s Kami Barzini, he used to be the wrestling coach when I got there. I started training wrestling with him at American Top Team. But he ended up leaving, and so I started training with Mike Brown.
“And Roger Krahl — Roger was at American Top Team, too, it comes from that. It comes from American Top Team anyways. They’re not there but I’m pretty sure [the coachers from American Top Team] really have amazing moments that they’ll always remember as well.”
Barzini left American Top Team and began working at Sanford MMA, another major facility in South Florida, while Krahl actually works out of an American Top Team affiliate in nearby Sunrise.
Nunes will also continue to have her wife and fellow UFC fighter Nina Nunes in her corner as well. It’s obviously a major change, but she promises this has been her plan for quite some time.
“I want to do different things,” Nunes said. “I want to go on my own. So that’s why I made my decision to see, just to change a little bit.
“It’s not bad about any of the coaches. They all did great things. We all did great things together, but at some time in your life, you want to do something different.”