While Julianna Pena did defeat former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes once, her team will not let that win distract them for the rematch. Ahead of their second encounter against the ‘Lioness,’ Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach Luiz Claudio Preto believes a mature approach will be key when they meet again.
In an interview with Combate, Preto explained that Pena did deserve to win the first fight back in December. However, Luiz also acknowledges that Julianna can fix some mistakes before the rematch, and that is what they will be working on until the pair meets later this year.
“Sometimes it’s just your night and everything goes right,” Preto said. “Sometimes you do everything right and nothing goes your way. It was a mix of factors. Nothing is easy, Julianna had been training for that fight for years. It was a goal she really wanted to achieve. Julianna trained a lot, we even have to be careful not to ler her overtrain, because she could get hurt. I even told her: ‘For the love of god, don’t ask for a rematch in one week or one month.’
“We won, but there’s still a lot to fix,” Preto continued. “There’s room for improvement, especially because Amanda is going to be better than the first time. It’s really important that we keep our feet on the ground. We have to be humble, to know that we won, but that’s in the past. We made mistakes, we’ll fix them. If you watch the fight, you’ll see that Amanda hit her a lot. They were tagging each other at the same time.”
Preto is proud of Pena for her win against Amanda, especially since the finish happened on the ground, which is his element. However, Luiz is aware that they will have to be even more prepared for the rematch, since they expect Nunes not to make the same mistakes she made in the first bout.
“Amanda has improved a lot in the last few years, but so has Julianna. Her striking is much better, her conditioning, a lot of things that improved her training camp. We knew that Amanda was great at taking the back. There were a lot of things we saw in Amanda’s fights that helped us prepare. When she took her back, Julianna was not desperate, she kept attacking. That was cool. She felt comfortable there.
“We took it to the ground and finished the fight with our jiu-jitsu,” Preto said. “It was wonderful, but only because she had gotten much better. For the rematch, I think Amanda is going to be better than ever. She’s going all out to win her belt back.”
Before the win over Nunes, Pena (11-4) also finished Sara McMann with a rear-naked choke, back in January of the same year. The win made the 32-year-old bounce back from a submission loss to former UFC women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie, in October 2020.
Now, Pena and Nunes are slated to coach the 30th season of The Ultimate Fighter and meet for the women’s bantamweight title after the show’s finale, which is scheduled to start on May 3.