Nina Nunes chats wife Amanda's win over Anderson
Strawweight contender Nina Nunes was on a path to a title shot the last time we saw her in the Octagon. Riding a four-fight winning streak, she dropped a tight decision to Tatiana Suarez at UFC 238 in June of 2019.
After taking some time off from fighting to give birth to daughter Raegan with her wife, two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes, Nina returns to face Mackenzie Dern at UFC Fight Night Saturday in a fight that could heavily impact the strawweight rankings.
For the 28-year-old Dern, a victory over the No. 5-ranked Nunes would easily break her into the top 10 and cement her place among the contenders.
As far as Nunes is concerned, the win should put her right in line to face the very top of the division.
"Title shot, I was number five before I left,” Nunes told TSN. “I lost a close fight to Tatiana, who was the next contender, she’s been out since then and hasn’t fought and I think this fight should put me right back where I left off.”
It will come as no surprise that Dern’s best path to victory will be to get Saturday’s fight to the ground and use her world class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to her advantage. Nunes, who has four TKO victories on her resume, enters the fight with a superior stand-up game and no worries about her opponent’s skill set.
"Regardless of the fact that that’s she’s good at jiu-jitsu or even if she was a wrestler, I’m a striker, I like to keep it standing, it’s my thing,” said Nunes. “I do have takedowns, I do have ground as well, but I enjoy standing, I like punching and kicking so that’s where I’m going to try to keep the fight. It starts on the feet so if she’s going to try to take me down I have very good wrestling, if it just so happens to go to the ground I also have very good jiu jitsu. I’m not worried where the fight’s going to go, I’m just focused on what I came to focus on and that’s my game plan.”
While it’s been 22 months since the last time the 35-year-old fought in the UFC, she has still been training as well as helping her wife Amanda prepare for bouts. Nunes says she’s felt connected to fighting and has not sensed that she’s been away that long.
"You know, two years is a lot of time to take off, but it didn’t feel like two years,” said Nunes. “It went super fast, I felt like I was only out for 6-7 months, because I was still in the fight world, I was still training when I was pregnant, I was still watching Amanda go through everything. I’ve taken long breaks between fights since the beginning of my career because of injuries and all that stuff, so to me it doesn’t seem like a super long time. I really do feel like it was not that long ago and I’m just jumping right back in where I left off.”
Nunes believes that stuffing Dern’s takedowns will be a huge key to victory on Saturday, though she expects her opponent won’t give up on getting the fight to the ground easily.
"Every fighter I’ve fought that has tried to take me down and they end up failing towards the end and I start picking them apart and winning the fight, that’s just the way it has gone,” said Nunes. “But she has a lot of heart, she’ll keep coming and I’m going to keep defending."