At the final pay-per-view of 2021, Nunes saw her dominant two-division reign collapse at the hands of an unlikely challenger, although every threat to her throne had been seen as that up until “The Venezuelan Vixen” shocked the world.
Ahead of the event, it looked like business as usual for Nunes. But inside the Octagon, things were far from normal for the “Lioness.”
Peña, who entered the clash with a noticeable air of confidence and self-belief, repeatedly told people what was going to happen. While most didn’t listen, a select few did. Nevertheless, when she choked out Nunes in the second round, becoming the first woman to defeat the Brazilian since 2014, the MMA world was treated to one of if not the biggest upsets in the sport’s history.
Peña: Nunes Had 2 Fights To Prepare For
Peña undoubtedly prepared endlessly for her clash with the former double champ and had her sights set on Nunes throughout her fight camp. But she believes the same can’t be said the other way around.
While “The Venezuelan Vixen” was able to put all of her energy into gameplay and strategy, the champ believes the Brazilian had two fights to prepare for, one being her weight cut.
Nunes has held the featherweight title since her own incredible upset victory over Cris Cyborg in 2018. Prior to UFC 269, she had defended the 145-pound belt in back-to-back contests against Felicia Spencer and Megan Anderson. Having not made the cut to 135 pounds since 2019, Peña believes Nunes may have struggled.
During an interview with Fox Sports, the bantamweight titleholder was asked whether she was surprised to see her opponent tire so quickly in their co-main event fight. Given that Nunes had to overcome her first battle, a grueling weight cut, Peña wasn’t shocked to witness the “Lioness” gas out so quickly, an advantage the champ says she took full advantage of as a natural bantamweight.
“I think that she had two fights her entire camp leading up to this fight. Her first fight was gonna be her weight cut and trying to get her body back down to fighting at bantamweight. And her second fight was gonna be (against) me. Whereas, I only had one fight the entire time and that was me focusing on just Amanda, not having to make weight, not having to make such a drastic weight cut. (It was) something that I never had to take into consideration during my camp. I am a natural 135lber.
“I knew that she was going to be struggling to make that weight, and that was gonna be the first battle she’d have to overcome. With that being said, she was gassed after the first, and I could hear that. I could feel it. I could just hear that heavy breathing in my ear. I knew that was, like I’ve been saying the whole time, the key to success there—just to wear her out, get her tired.”
If her weight cut did play a part, Nunes all be hoping to resolve the issue in 2022 when she has her chance for redemption. Following the shocking result, UFC President Dana White confirmed the Brazilian would be offered an immediate rematch, something she’s already welcomed with open arms.
Do you think Amanda Nunes’ weight cut played a part in her defeat to Julianna Peña at UFC 269?