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Amanda Nunes: Unfinished

“If she shows up the way she said she’s gonna show up, I’m gonna knock her out,” the women’s MMA GOAT tells Boardroom ahead of her fight with Julianna Peña at UFC 269.

Amanda Nunes doesn’t need extra motivation to be great — or to be an out-and-out savage, depending on what the situation calls for. So when UFC women’s bantamweight contender JuliannaPeña started talking a whole lot of mess to the greatest fighter in the history of women’s mixed martial arts earlier this year, it raised serious eyebrows across the fight world.

Nunes is a two-belt champion who’s headlined four UFC pay-per-view main events. She’s earned five separate $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses, tied for No. 1 among woman fighters and tied for fifth overall. She owns the longest combined title reign in UFC history. With all this in mind, the phrase “poking the bear” doesn’t really capture whatPeña did.

She was poking the GOAT. And that comes with much more ruinous, concussive, possibly bloody consequences.

Ahead of the Brazilian legend’s sixth attempted bantamweight title defense at UFC 269 Saturday night, Boardroom caught up with the two-belt champ and future Hall of Famer (plus a bonus appearance from wife and UFC strawweight contender Nina Nunes and their daughter, Raegan Ann) to discuss preparing forPeña, what she still has left to accomplish in her career, and the joy of sharing these incredible moments with her young child.

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SAM DUNN: How has your fight camp been? In what ways do you alter your preparation to face a fighter like Julianna Peña?

AMANDA NUNES: We like to do some things different, but it’s not changing that much — [just] little things. Everything to make you get better. So for Julianna, of course, she’s a wrestler, but also she’s a striker as well. We all know she’s gonna push the pace, try to wrestle and dirty box.

So we change a couple little things in the conditioning, try to eat something else different as well in the diet, but not so big because we [have been] in this game for so long.

SD: What sort of danger does Julianna pose to her opponents?

AN: I feel like Julianna’s that kind of fighter that likes to grind. she likes to come up, keep moving forward, get hit, and still keep moving forward. I feel like that is a good thing in her game. But at the same time, she’s never fought nobody like me before, so I don’t know how she’s going to keep it up when I step in front of her.

SD: She’s talked a pretty surprising amount of trash in the run up to this fight. What do you make of it, and does it ultimately factor into the fight itself?

AN: I’ve been hearing it through you guys. I don’t see much things she said. I’ve never been that kind of person ever in my whole career — you’re never gonna see me sitting down at the computer like, “Let me see what Julianna said about me today.” You’re never gonna see me doing that because it’s not how I answer things. Saturday is how I’m gonna answer all those things.

I know she’s been talking, but I don’t know what she’s been talking. I feel like she was doing what she was supposed to do to be able to get this fight — talk — because she never [was] a contender. She beat Sara McMann [in her] last fight; I beat Sara McMann years ago [before] I even was the champion. All the big fighters that I beat, beat her. Beat her at her own game. So when I say she’s delusional, it’s because she’s saying things [that are] not true.

So when she opened her mouth to say lying things, it’s bad for her. It looks bad for her. So if she talks trash, at least talk trash on something that’s really true. Like, I never heard her name mentioned, ever, to fight me. I don’t know what she’s talking about.

SD: You’re a two-division UFC champion. You haven’t lost in seven years. You’re known as the GOAT. What’s left for you to accomplish in MMA, and how do you continue staying motivated?

AN: This is my job. I have the belt. I still want to fight, still want to defend the belt. So I have to move forward — that’s it. Whatever it’s gonna take to break a record, I’m gonna do whatever I have to.

I want to keep fighting. So if I tell you [that] I have something else to prove, I don’t know, but you’re always going to see me here no matter what. If you have anything else, I’m going to do it. If you don’t, okay, I’m still going to fight.

Just to have memories with my family, my little girl. To have those moments, I feel like in the future for her it’s going to be very positive. She’ll see all the steps you went through when she was in Nina’s belly. And it’s going to be pretty cool when I have all these pictures and videos, all those things to show her. I feel like that is the big, big moments for us: In the backstage, in the fight.

And Saturday is gonna be different. She’s gonna be inside the cage to celebrate.

https://youtu.be/eHpq_Iebz8M

SD: That’s beautiful! And right on cue, we gotta have your prediction for the fight.

AN: If she shows up the way she said she’s gonna show up, I’m gonna knock her out. And if she [is] able to engage, I’m going to finish her for sure. I’m going to go for the neck — and I know the neck’s very vulnerable.

A lot of people got on that neck before, and that is her biggest weakness. [If] she wrestles so much [that] she forgets about the neck, I’m going to get it on the neck. I hope she really comes with everything she has, because that is the moment that I shine.

When she comes crazy up to me, we will see for sure. If there’s gonna be a finish or the fight goes to the judges at the end of the fifth round, I’m going to be ready for any moment. This can go at any time — as soon possible or late. But I will finish her.

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