Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole interviews Amanda Nunes ahead of her bantamweight title rematch against champion Julianna Peña on Saturday at UFC 277 in Dallas. The former 135-pound champion, who still holds the featherweight belt, previews the matchup and explains what went wrong in the first fight.
KEVIN IOLE: Hey, everybody. I am Kevin Iole, and joining me right now is the GOAT. How often do you get a chance to talk to the GOAT? Amanda Nunes is going to be fighting in the main event as the challenger. Now, that's a different story. She's fighting Julianna Peña in the main event of UFC 277 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Amanda, it's been a while since we called you the challenger. I imagine you're pretty motivated for this one.
AMANDA NUNES: Definitely, you know. I feel like it's going to be a good weekend for me, especially Saturday. And I'm very, very excited about this. I have a good feeling. You know, everything, like, is under control. It's perfect. Ready to go.
KEVIN IOLE: Do you feel different going into the fight than you did last time? I know last time you had COVID during the summer, and it forced postponing one of the fights, and you kind of alluded to some issues that were going on in your camp. Do you feel better than you did going into the fight last time?
AMANDA NUNES: Oh, definitely. I have a full camp in this one, where it's completely different than my last camp. So yeah. Like, of course, like, when you know did it, like, enough to prepare yourself, you stay motivated. But you know you did enough. But this one, I did a full camp. I'm ready to go. And I can't wait Saturday.
KEVIN IOLE: How much did the grappling in the first round of the last fight affect you? There was a lot of grappling in that first round. And I guess people who don't know-- understand grappling don't know that it takes a lot out of you when you fight. But what impact did the first-round grappling have on you, going into the second?
AMANDA NUNES: Like we always do, we train that. You know what I mean? Actually, the grappling part actually was something that, of course, always very hard for me, because I went through a couple injuries in my knee. And I'd always be able to really, like, fold on my knee to at least, like, get a good workout on the floor. But you know, I do this for years, you know? I've been at top for years. I know how to be there. I know all what I have to do to move forward in the fight. You know what I mean?
But of course, I felt weird, you know? I felt weird things, you know? So I felt like my body not always right. And my time was off. Like, it was a mess. And I still try to really get a good recovery for-- for the second round until the first exchange. You know?
So-- and give credit to her. She connected, like, a couple times. That was not-- a good spine [INAUDIBLE]. That she started really, like, even slowing down. You know? So I give a lot of credit to her. But I feel like the ground game in the last-- I could have waited a little bit, especially to see after I went through in my camp to see how I was going to feel the first round. Of course, I could wait a little bit that. But I saw the opportunity, you know, and I went.
And yeah, I feel like--
KEVIN IOLE: That's sports, right?
AMANDA NUNES: Huh?
KEVIN IOLE: That's sports. That's how sports goes.
AMANDA NUNES: Exactly. But I didn't know how my body is going to feel and everything. So obviously, I have a bad, like, preparation for that fight. And-- but, like, show in the fight. Show everything. So that's-- that's kind of, like, similar if you look back and catching on a fight.
Was kind of like the same kind of preparation that I have-- like crazy because going through that whole fight week and everything, like, funny because me and Nina always talk about it-- and like, it was kind of the same feeling me and her always have when I lost for Kat. You know?
KEVIN IOLE: Ah. Katherine Connor, 2014. Yeah.
AMANDA NUNES: Exactly. No, it was a good camp. I kind of, like, you know, went into those, like, training, that's, like, always too much. And at one point, going through a couple injuries too, like, move on. Like, it was such a-- a similar, like, camp that I-- that I have it. That was crazy when the fight happened. It's like, oh, my god, Nina, that's insane. How, like, was, like, things always tried to tell us, like, something, but we couldn't foresee.
KEVIN IOLE: I want to ask you this, Amanda. When I'm watching that last fight and you come out in the second round, you guys were-- it was amazing. You were in the center of the ring in the second round and just, like, trading. Did you land your good stuff on her? Because you're hitting her. And I asked her this yesterday. I said, when the fight started going that way, I thought, OK, this-- Amanda's going to win this fight any second now, because when Amanda hits you clean on the chin, people drop. She did not drop.
Now, let me-- so I'm not asking to make an excuse, but I'm asking you a legitimate question. Do you feel like you landed your good stuff in those exchanges in the second round?
AMANDA NUNES: Honestly, like, I did land, like, a couple good ones, you know? And I don't remember if-- I don't-- I don't-- I didn't see if those ones was, you know, in the right spot, in the chin, all those spots that's really very sensitive. You know, I saw, like, a couple ones that was right in her eye, a couple of those places that you would be able to recovery. You know?
And you know, the usual stuff. It's not-- it's not-- like, I don't think that for her. You know? But like, if I was more precise in my shot on that night and later she-- take my time, and pace myself, and see where my body was, like, where my body was if I get it all under control, I would have finished her that night. You know what I mean? But that wasn't what happened.
And everything-- all my timing, like, my movement, everything was off. I never-- I never-- if you, like, look at my other fights, like, I never would have stayed there to exchange with her in the middle and stay to, like, get hit or whatever. My fights are an in-and-out fight. You know, I find your-- I find the holes out there. Of course, you get hit here and there, but you don't stay there to really keep constantly being connected.
And a couple mistakes that I saw from that last fight was kind of like why I'm always training, you know. So what I was be able to do, you know. Couple circles, couple things here and there. That even [INAUDIBLE], I wouldn't be able to do that much.
And it's like our training, you know. And I don't expect that much in that fight. So after, like, what I went through, see how was my training. But it is what it is, you know. Julianna take a couple of my best shot. Of course, it wasn't the precise one that I like to do when I'm really in my best. But I'm glad that I save it for Saturday.
KEVIN IOLE: [LAUGHS] So I wonder how-- you're used to being the champion, right? You had two belts. You were-- everybody-- everywhere you go, everybody's praising you as the greatest of all time. They're building you up to be this monster that-- you know, as an unbeatable monster. And when you lost the title, how much does that hurt? And how-- have you laid awake thinking at night about that? And has that had any impact on making you hungrier for this fight?
AMANDA NUNES: Honestly, like, I really-- like, I was upset, of course. But, like, no one's having time to be sad about it. You know, like, I saw Regan right after. You know, she kind of, like, put me in that mood she want to play with me. And I said, like, OK, I just lost my belt, but, like, I have to be happy for my daughter. And you know, keep-- life goes on.
And when I was, like, doing the things over there-- you know, go through the [INAUDIBLE], I always think, like, man, like, you know, it is what it is. Like, I cannot take that-- or take that as-- as hard on myself, because I know what I went through to be able to make that fight happen. And, you know, if you have to learn it, it's like, that was one of the best ways to learn it-- how life can hit you really, like, in the way that's like, you better learn next time. If not, you're going to feel the same.
And so you know, like, it's not that I haven't been in that situation before. You know? It's not-- it's like, starting with a loss is not good, but kind of like, make you stronger. Whatever happens, maybe in the future, you'll be able to, like, really overcome it.
And it happened with me. Every time that I lost, I make some adjustments in my life and adjustments in my training. And if I have to make some of those changes, I have to do. Always, always like that with me. I always look for changing and-- and right after things, like, go good. You know. So this is not going to be different. You know.
After I got my gym, everything set up, so I felt so good. I felt like, man, this is, like, a new, a new--
KEVIN IOLE: A new Amanda.
AMANDA NUNES: A new thing for me. That's-- I walk in the gym, it's like my gym. I see all my accomplishments on the wall. I see, you know, everything that I-- that I-- that I did, you know. Of course, with the coaches, our America top team is, like, don't get me wrong, we did this together, we-- we really made history ti
But there was one time in my life that I felt that I needed to move on. And when I lost, the first thing that I thought, I said, like, I'm going to start all over. I'm going to-- I'm going to listen what I want. You know.
KEVIN IOLE: I want to-- I'm sorry.
AMANDA NUNES: Go ahead. You can--
KEVIN IOLE: I was just going to ask you this. I one time was talking to a very knowledgeable MMA person about a fighter who changed camps. And I said, is it good for him, is it better? And he said, it doesn't matter if their coach is actually better. It matters if the fighter thinks it's better.
And I get the sense that you feel like you have total belief in what you're doing to now. And so that confidence that you have in your preparation and in your training camp will probably lead to performance in the Octagon, I would imagine.
AMANDA NUNES: Yeah, definitely. I feel what I was needing was get a little bit of control of my training. You know. Like, even, like, a couple of things that I want to make some changes, you know, and of course, like, if I talk to the coach, like, maybe we would change all this and that. But, like, going through that to change and to talk, see if it's good or not, like, getting in that conversation with the coach is, like, sometimes it takes a little bit from you. And sometimes you don't want to go through those things. You know.
And I literally wanted to, like, try something new. And especially, like, seven years together and all those things, like, OK, if I lost now, like, it's time to do something different, you know what I mean? Well, it's time to see, to try. I feel like this is life, you know, You got to-- you got to-- you got to do what you got to do. If you want to make some changes, you have an opportunity. This is your life, you know. You can move on. You can-- you can adjust. You can make things different if you want.
I feel like a lot of people will be asking me, like, oh, you're not going to miss your coach, being there for so long? You know, heavy things that you'll be able to block. You know what I mean? Especially me that I come from Brazil, I have to make a lot of changes in my life to becoming who I am today. You know what I mean?
Before I come to America top team, I make such a lot of changes to, boom, finally got that. And I have to make those blocks. That coach was great for me, yes, but now I have to go. So boom, you know. I still-- he's still good. He's still great person, a coach. But like, for me, I have to move on.
So you know, like, it's not because I-- oh, you don't miss your coach? It's not that. It's just because now it's time to move on. You know? Now it's time to, like, make some changes and see what happens.
But like I say, America top team is-- the door is open for me. I talk with--
KEVIN IOLE: [INAUDIBLE]
AMANDA NUNES: Yeah, I talked to them. You know, I talk to the coaches too. So it's like-- I just want to go, you know. I just want to do this. I feel like it would be something if I retired in the future. It would be something that I would be like, damn, I should have opened-- have a gym one day. I did it. So now I don't have anything, like, to really regret, you know. So I got a gym now.
KEVIN IOLE: No regrets. And on Saturday, she got a chance to remind everybody who the GOAT is. That's Amanda Nunes, UFC 277 against Julianna Peña, main event.
AMANDA NUNES: Definitely.
KEVIN IOLE: Don't miss it. Thank you, Amanda. Appreciate you.
AMANDA NUNES: Thank you. Appreciate that.
KEVIN IOLE: See you soon.