UFC strawweight contender Amanda Ribas has suggested something may have been wrong with featherweight champion Amanda Nunes prior to her shocking defeat at UFC 269.
Ahead of the final pay-per-view of 2021, Nunes reigned over two divisions, hadn’t lost since 2014, was riding a 12-fight win streak, and had cemented her place as the female MMA GOAT in the eye of most.
With those accolades in mind, she was expected to close the year out with a comfortable bantamweight title defense against Julianna Peña. What occurred in Las Vegas on December 11 was far from comfortable for “The Lioness.”
Proving that her fight week confidence and self-belief hadn’t been misplaced, and proving most fans and pundits wrong, Peña executed her strategy to perfection, tiring Nunes out on the feet and choking her out on the ground. The result will forever be seen as one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
Ribas “Can’t Wait” For Nunes To Reclaim The Title
The reaction to the incredible underdog triumph saw a host of theories about the win, the chokehold, and Nunes’ resolve after being put in a position she hadn’t been in for seven years. But the Brazilian’s compatriot and American Top Team teammate, Amanda Ribas, says nobody knows what happened inside the T-Mobile Arena except the former 135-pound queen.
During the latest episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Ribas compared Nunes’ disappointing defeat to her own setback opposite Marina Rodriguez earlier in the year. Despite feeling prepared and good to go, something felt off on the night, a phenomenon she believes could have hit “The Lioness” at UFC 269.
“Maybe she had sinusitis and nobody knew,” Ribas said. “Imagine getting punched in the face and when you see it, wow. Nobody knows. Maybe she didn’t recover well from her weight cut. I haven’t spoken with her so I don’t know. Nobody knows what happened that day.
“In my opinion, I thought she looked a little, I don’t know, kind of the same way I was in my fight with Marina [Rodriguez]. I was fine, I was prepared, but [wasn’t 100 percent there]. And sometimes the Venezuelan was more active, wanted it more.”
Despite admitting the loss was difficult for her to accept as a fan and teammate of Nunes, Ribas expects the reigning featherweight titleholder to bounce back in 2022 and reclaim the bantamweight belt from “The Venezuelan Vixen.”
“It was complicated,” she said of her reaction to Nunes’ UFC 269 loss. “I have Amanda at the top, like no one’s getting near her and she’ll beat everybody. To me, she’s very smart in her game and has an extraordinary mind for the fight, so it’s hard to accept when she lost.
“Maybe she’ll accept the loss better than me, as a fan. But nobody knows how she was [feeling] that day. Maybe she didn’t perform that day. Nobody knows what’s going on. It was sad, but I know she’ll bounce back. She’s still the [featherweight] champion. She’s only lost one belt and I’m sure she will reclaim it. [Peña] said she’ll give her an immediate rematch, and I can’t wait for it.” (h/t MMA Fighting)
It appears Nunes will have the chance to prove Ribas right soon enough. In the aftermath of her championship loss, the Brazilian’s option of an immediate rematch was confirmed by UFC President Dana White.
Showing that her motivation and toughest hasn’t dwindled, Nunes was quick to accept. “The Lioness” will no doubt be returning to the Octagon with extra fire and hunger in 2022.
Do you think Amanda Nunes will reclaim the bantamweight gold if she runs it back with Julianna Peña in 2022?
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