Amanda Nunes Will Be Ready For Pena After UFC 289 Clash With Irene Aldana: ‘I Can Kick Her A** Anytime I Want’

Amanada Nunes will make her first title defense since reclaiming the title in a 2022 rematch with bantamweight rival Julianna Pena

Amanda Nunes
Courtesy of @UFCNews on Twitter

Amanda Nunes refused to walk away from mixed martial arts while Julianna Pena was a UFC champion.

‘The Lioness’ is set for her highly anticipated return to the Octagon this Saturday night as she headlines UFC 289 in the Great White North. Nunes will begin her second run as the women’s bantamweight world champion, defending the title against No. 5 ranked contender Irena Aldana. Originally, Nunes was scheduled to complete her trilogy with the only woman to defeat her in nearly a decade, Julianna Pena

Unfortunately, the ‘Venezuelan Vixen’ injured herself in training and was forced to withdraw from the bout, paving the way for Aldana to get her long-awaited UFC title opportunity. 

While Amanda Nunes’ loss to Pena in 2021 almost seems like a fever dream at this point, it was a shocking upset that really happened and nearly spelled the end of Nunes’ storied career. Appearing at the UFC 289 media event on Wednesday, Nunes addressed rumors that she had considered retirement following the loss, leading fans to suspect that she already has one foot out the door. 

“When you hold the belt for so long and then lose it, you get sad and you don’t know what to do, honestly,” Nunes said. “Because you work so hard. I worked my whole life for that day and then to see it go away like that with somebody I know I’m better. That was hard to see, to watch after. For a couple moments, I was a little confused about the whole thing, but as soon as I got home because I’m driving back, and I take a couple days to be at home, and I was thinking about a lot of things. What I can do. What I have to change.

“I thought [about] a lot of things and I decided not to retire. Because leaving my belt with Julianna? No way. It can be with somebody else, but Julianna, no. And I know I can kick her a** anytime I want. That day was a day I’m thinking she’s supposed to win that day. I’m supposed to make the mistake that I made. To fight without being in great shape and I paid for it. And I’m never going to do that again. Ever.”

Amanda Nunes Was Not Surprised to See Alexa Grasso Finish Valentina Shevchenko

Should Nunes get past Irene Aldana this Saturday night, many assume her trilogy bout with Julianna Pena will be rescheduled. But with Raquel Pennington serving as the official backup for Nunes vs. Aldana, it begs the question, is Pennington next in line? Asked who she would rather face, ‘The Lioness’ said:

“Either. Either one of them is right there to fight for the belt so I’m going to be ready for them.” 

Of course, Nunes is certainly not going to look past Irene Aldana, especially after the remarkable year that Mexican fighters have had inside the Octagon. The promotion has seen three Mexican-born fighters emerge as world champions, including Brandon Moreno, Yair Rodriguez, and Alexa Grasso. Speaking about Grasso’s shocking submission win over long-time flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, Nunes suggested that Shevchenko has a lot of holes in her game and was not overly surprised that Grasso was able to score a finish. 

“I don’t know if it was surprising,” Nunes continued. “I fought Valentina when she was in her prime and we were both growing. In our last fight, we were both growing as a fighter and Valentina has a lot of holes [in her game] that I can see. I wasn’t able to do it back then, but I can see how Alexa Grasso was able to finish her.” 

Grasso’s teammate, Mayra Bueno Silva, will square off with former bantamweight world champion Holly Holm at UFC 289 this weekend as she continues to work her way toward a clash with Nunes in the future. Asked whether or not she sees Silva as a potential contender with a win over Holm, Nunes replied in an emphatic fashion. 

“I don’t think so right now. No,” Nunes said without hesitation.

Published on June 7, 2023 at 9:40 pm
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