Amanda Nunes on UFC 215: 'I'm ready to step into the cage'
Amanda Nunes was supposed to be fighting in the hot desert of Las Vegas, not in Edmonton, Canada. And UFC 213 in July was supposed to be Nunes' opportunity to prove that she could, in fact, carry a card -- not a time to appear weak.
But it didn't go as Nunes planned. Instead of facing Valentina Shevchenko for her third title defense, Nunes pulled out of the fight hours before it was set to begin and was taken to the hospital for what she called chronic sinusitis. She threw the card into chaos and took one on the chin from social media.
So ahead of UFC 215 Saturday, when she'll get in the Octagon against Shevchenko, Nunes is determined to put to rest questions about her toughness and her ability.
"I feel amazing," Nunes said in a phone interview. "After that moment, I went home, found a good doctor, and we've been working since that day. Everything has been way better. I'm ready to step into the cage."
Before UFC 213, Nunes came out hot against Shevchenko, throwing barbs in the press and guaranteeing a finish through knockout or submission. This time around, Nunes is more subdued. She's focused. But this fight already experienced its buildup two months ago.
"Everything I say right now is only going to give more energy away," Nunes said. "I'm not saying that many things because I don't have much to say. I keep all my strength together because I've said what people want to hear already."
But if the lights were bright before, they are certainly brighter now -- this time with scrutiny, rather than adoration. Nunes has a lot on the line for this fight. Anything less than a dominating performance gives cover to her doubters and detractors, including, perhaps, UFC president Dana White, who was less than supportive following Nunes' decision to not fight at UFC 213.
"I don't think we've ever had a situation like today, though, where she was physically capable of fighting," White said at a news conference following the event. Though medically cleared by a UFC doctor, Nunes said in a statement the following day that balance issues and breathing problems caused her to remove herself from the match. She doesn't regret it.
"It's not healthy, that's the thing," Nunes said this week. "I don't know how the UFC doctor said I was cleared to fight. When my specialist looked at my CAT scan, he told me I made the right decision. I'm going to be direct and to the point: We'll never know what could have happened to me if I fought that night."
In true Nunes fashion, The Lioness isn't worried about what people are saying on social media, or whether she's loved or hated. She's just ready to get in the Octagon. Finally.
"I don't need to say anything because at the end of the day [other people] don't pay my bills," Nunes said. "People can say what they want, I don't even care."