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Amanda Nunes blames injuries, ‘broken training camp’ for UFC 269 loss to Julianna Pena

Former women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes sheds some light on what allegedly led to her loss at UFC 269.

Amanda Nunes lost to Julianna Pena in December 2021.
Amanda Nunes lost to Julianna Pena in December 2021.
Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes wants to clarify a few things about her first defeat in the past seven years. After losing her title to Julianna Pena a UFC 269, the ‘Lioness’ feels like she must explain what happened in the period before the match that led to such a disastrous performance.

In an interview with Ag Fight, Nunes explained that injuries, a case of COVID-19 and fight cancellations did not allow her to prepare properly for the fight at UFC 269. Although she had many reasons to withdraw from the fight, Amanda preferred to fight on anyway. A decision the Brazilian now bitterly regrets.

“When the first fight against her was scheduled, I got COVID and had to call it off,” Nunes said. “The second time around, I was in the middle of one training camp for one fight and had to start a second one right after. I suffered some injuries along the way. Every athlete has injuries, there’s no escape from that. My injuries were a huge hindrance throughout my whole camp, though. I was stubborn and said we would do it anyway, I said it was going to work.

“I would train one day. The next day I’d come back too debilitated to train,” Nunes continued. “So I did not have a good camp. I had a pretty broken training camp. Usually, us fighters do not think much. We just want to fight and fight. Sometimes we don’t listen to our bodies. We don’t listen to the voice of experience.”

According to Amanda, this difficulty to train rendered her unable to hone her striking technique ahead of UFC 269. In the second round of the fight, Nunes says that a powerful shot landed by Pena, which led to the end of the contest, was a direct consequence of the unsuccessful training camp.

“There was a moment in the second round where she landed a really good shot and it ended up costing me the fight,” Nunes said. “I could not find my distance. I usually learn that in sparring sessions and I did not get to spar that much during this camp. I had one or two sessions, because of my injuries. My timing was really off and she was able to connect with a superman punch, I think, right behind my ear. I couldn’t recover. I lost my balance and everything went wrong after that.”

The loss to Pena marks Nunes (21-5) first loss since a September 2014 TKO defeat to Cat Zingano. Between the two results, the 33-year-old scored 12 straight wins, some of which are against the best names in women’s MMA history, including Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg and Valentina Shevchenko, among others.

Now, Nunes and Pena are expected to coach the 30th of The Ultimate Fighter and to rematch for the bantamweight title after the show is over. So far, it is unclear when or where the event will take place.