After extending her win streak to 12, her two-division rule, and her seven-year unbeaten run at UFC 259 last March with a dominant submission win against Megan Anderson, Nunes returned to bantamweight to defend her 135-pound gold against Julianna Peña.
While many saw the challenger as a gift-wrapped delivery for the Brazilian’s first outing in the weight class since 2019, Peña switched the ‘And Still’ bunting to ‘And New’ in December.
After their initially scheduled UFC 265 clash was pushed back after the then-champ returned a positive COVID-19 test, the pair finally collided at the last pay-per-view of the year.
Providing one of the most memorable moments of the year, and across the promotion’s entire history, “The Venezuelan Vixen” submitted Nunes in the second round to be crowned the new queen of the bantamweights.
During a recent media scrum, Nunes, who still owns the featherweight gold, looked back on her crushing defeat inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
Having branded her camp as a “mess” due to the negative effect the UFC 265 cancelation had on her training, as well as numerous injuries she claims to have carried into the event, Nunes suggested the smart thing to do would have been to delay the matchup for the second time.
According to the Brazilian, she was lying to herself by attempting to fight through her issues and by believing she could compete at 100% of her abilities at UFC 269.
“I thought it wouldn’t look good if I let that fight fall through one more time. So I put what I was (dealing with) aside, but I didn’t have a very good camp, that was the honest thing,” said Nunes. “I tried putting into my head that I was ready, I was 100%, but I was lying to myself. That is exactly what I was (doing). But as a fighter, as a warrior, I wanna fight. I want to do that. I’m gonna fight whatever, even if I have an injury. But at this level, you cannot do those stupid moves. So, I paid for it.
“I was supposed to let the fight fall through, get 100% again, and fight Julianna,” Nunes continued. “And I know Julianna is a very tough opponent. I know that (defeat) could have a chance at happening cause my timing was very off. I wasn’t even able to do sparring in my camp.”
Nunes Reveals Doctor Advised Her Not To Fight At UFC 269
To put into context how serious her troubles and physical issues were prior to UFC 269, Nunes revealed her doctor had advised her to pull out of the UFC’s year-ending PPV.
The “Lioness” described her decision to ignore that advice as a “dumb” move, and one she certainly paid for at the hands of Peña.
“Unfortunately, sometimes we do dumb things, and especially at the level I’m at, we’re not supposed to do those things,” said Nunes. “Sometimes I say, ‘Man, I really should’ve listened to my doctor.’ He told me, ‘Let me handle it with the UFC, I’ll tell them exactly what you’re going through right now, and you have to have time to rest and recover. If you don’t you’re not gonna perform as well.’ I was like, fighting with my doctor. I said, ‘You’re not gonna do that, you don’t have my permission to do that. I’m gonna fight.’
“So, I went back to his offices (after UFC 269) and he looked at me like, ‘I told you,'” added Nunes. “So now, after watching the fight as well, I had a hard time for a little bit watching the fight because I was like, ‘Man, I don’t know what happened.’ Like, I kept lying to myself after the fight.”
After losing the bantamweight title in 2021, Nunes will be hoping to reclaim her spot on the throne this year when she meets Peña for the second time. The pair are set to run it back following a stint coaching this year’s edition of The Ultimate Fighter.
Are you excited for the new season of TUF and Julianna Peña vs. Amanda Nunes 2?