Exclusive: Amanda Nunes Explains Move Away From ATT, Pick for Oliveira-Makhachev

Amanda Nunes, UFC

Getty In this handout image provided by UFC, Amanda Nunes of Brazil interacts with media during the UFC 259 press conference.

UFC superstar Amanda Nunes has backed Charles Oliveira to come out on top of his upcoming bout with Islam Makhachev.

Former two-division UFC champion Nunes is gearing up to face Julianna Pena in a rematch after losing her title in one of the biggest upsets in history to the latter at UFC 269 in Dec. 2021. They will square off once again following a season-long shoot together as coaches for the latest season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

It will be a historic rematch where the winner will take all bragging rights on July 30 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

Uncrowned king Charles Oliveira will take on Islam Makhachev in another highly-anticipated matchup at UFC 280 for the vacant lightweight strap.

In an exclusive interview with Heavy, CELSIUS-sponsored athlete Nunes talked about her fellow Brazilian’s upcoming title fight and backed him to hand Makhachev a defeat.

“Man, I think Charles is going to finish him,” Nunes said. “I think he’s going to finish him. He’s going to take the belt back. I feel like he’s on a good run right now and he has a lot of motivation.

“You can see from him if you talk to him if you see him. I feel like he’s on a good run so I feel like he’s going to win. I don’t see his opponent could beat him.

“If this fight goes to the floor or stays on the feet, I feel like Charles will have a lot more to offer, especially in striking, Muay Thai, I feel he has a lot more.

“I don’t see the holes that his opponent can finish him. But a fight’s a fight. We always stay with our fingers crossed but I’m going for Charles do Bronx.”

Nunes Explains Her Move Away From American Top Team

Following her loss to Pena, Nunes decided to leave the American Top Team, her longtime gym in Florida. She founded her own gym, Lion’s MMA after the split and felt like she needed to create her own space.

“This is something that I always wanted in my life before I retire, I wanted my space,” Nunes said. “This is something that I feel like every fighter wants to do one day, especially me that I’ve made so much history. We make so many things that on paper, I have.

“I was walking around the house one day and have all my, the things that UFC gives to you, all your stuff during the years, pictures, all your accomplishments, posters that I was on, all those things. I always wondered what I was going to do with that.

“Maybe help somebody with that, maybe help a couple of institutions so having my gym where I can see every day when I walk in, what I did in my life, all my historical moments being there.

“Those moments are very good. I always think where I’m going to put those things. I have to do something with all those things, I can’t leave them here like it’s nothing. It’s a lot of work that I did in my whole career. I have to put this on the wall and see these things every day.”

Nunes Talks About Recording “The Ultimate Fighter”

For their first encounter, there was a level of trash talk from a fired-up Pena who took shots at the dominant former champion. Nunes was surprised to find herself dealing with a different, more calm Pena on the set of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

“Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to that,” she said. “For me, whatever she wanted to do she can do. But of course, when you’re going to be on TV a whole month, you don’t want to look like you’re a bad champion.

“She knows what she’s doing. She has to do those things, I don’t know if she’s being fake or not, just accept her. But she was different, in her space and I was in mine, and then nothing was happening.”

Nunes was prepared to handle some drama for the reality show but that didn’t happen.

“But when you see “The Ultimate Fighter,” they want a little bit of drama so people can get excited to watch. I was ready for that, for a little bit of drama but Julie was not on the page and it was good because that’s always a page (from my playbook) to be okay with the whole situation and keep flowing.

“I knew she wasn’t going to do her scenes and it was fine. It was a pretty good opportunity.”