In an interview with
ESPN, the former bantamweight queen revealed that she suffered injuries to both of her knees leading up to her second-round submission loss to Pena on Dec. 11.
“The whole camp for this fight, of course it was a mess,” said Nunes, who remains the UFC featherweight champion. “I always want to put in my head, ‘It’s OK. I can do this.’ [Fighters] are like that, we want to go through whatever to step in that cage. The first fight fell through after I got COVID, and then I went through a couple issues. I was not able to show up to the gym every day at 100 percent, but I did not want to let that fight go again. ”
Nunes appeared to fatigue quickly against Pena at UFC 269, and that could have been in part because the Brazilian was too reliant on her upper body due to her physical limitations. When the knockout did not arrive, Pena was able to assert her will.
“I could not do much jiu-jitsu, wrestling,” Nunes said. “I felt it in my warmup [on fight night]. My body and especially my arms. Everything in that camp was arms. I was only doing boxing. Everything I only did upper body. When I was warming up I was like, ‘That’s not how my body is.’ I’ve been in this game a long time. Five years with the belt, five years without. My body has never felt like that. ”
Nunes and Pena have been
tabbed to serve as coaches on Season 30 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” and then they will square off in a 135-pound title rematch sometime after the show’s conclusion. A date for the bout has not been announced. Prior to her upset loss to Pena, Nunes had been regarded by many as the greatest women’s fighter of all time as she compiled a 12-bout winning streak and captured belts in two divisions.
“We all know I’m better than her, we all know I did not show up that night,” Nunes said. “Do not get me wrong, I feel like Julianna is a great fighter but she’s not better than me. I’ve fought a lot of girls better than her in my best shape and still walked away with my belt. So, with Julianna , this rematch will be different. ”