Amanda Nunes is ready to face Kayla Harrison in MMA now that she is no longer part of American Top Team.
In fact, the two-time Olympic gold medalist was part of the reason Nunes decided to leave the Florida-based gym.
Speaking on this week’s episode of the MMA Fighting Podcast Trocação Franca, Nunes said that creating her own team has always been a “big dream” for her, and that reuniting with former coaches – those who helped prepare her for fights like her victory over Ronda Rousey – helped to facilitate the transition. Yet the UFC women’s featherweight champion also admitted that having two potential opponents – PFL star Harrison and UFC bantamweight Yana Kunitskaya – training daily under the same roof at ATT made her uncomfortable.
“There’s this saying, love it or group it,” said Nunes, who was also promoting his partnership with Sports Metaverse. “I was embarrassed by the whole situation, of course.
“There were no girls when I got to American Top Team. I was the first woman to win two belts and make history for the women’s team. When Kayla got there , then Kunitskaya, it started to create a strange situation for me because it was my territory.
“Other bantamweights were coming. Kunitskaya, who was already at the top and could have been a future opponent with a win over Ketlen [Vieira in 2021]. She got there just as she was about to become the next opponent. She showed up at the gym and I got scared walking in. I said to myself: “No, it is not possible”. It was already creating this situation.
“And then Kayla started talking. I was kind of, ‘Man, I’m not safe even in my turf.’ I was a bit stuck, even because we share the same coaches. She trains with Mike Brown and I train with Mike Brown. I was already training with them when she arrived there.
Having a teammate publicly expressing their intent to fight you was pretty weird, but Nunes was fine if Harrison made camp elsewhere.
“If there is anyone who bears the name of the team, it is me who brought back two belts [to ATT]”, Nunes said. “If I was not who I really am, a champion in two divisions, cool, no problem. But I was already the champion. She would have to train somewhere else to fight me.
“But she ended up signing [with PFL] again. It’s not a fight I didn’t want. If the opportunity is there and she wants it, cool, I’m in. A fighter needs challenges, people who talk about you and want to fight you.
Nunes is still ready to face Harrison if she ever joins the UFC, especially now that they are no longer teammates. “The Lioness” said she hopes to face Julianna Peña in July and regain the UFC bantamweight championship, “and then this fight [can happen].”
“If she’s going to sign [with the UFC] or not, it’s up to Kayla to decide. I’ll wait,” Nunes said. “That would be the right way, in my opinion, for her to talk about me, because I’m not here anymore. [at ATT]. It’s the right way to say whatever she wants on the mic, call me or do whatever she wants, and I’ll be waiting for her there. When she signs [with the UFC]I will be there to defend [my belt].”
“Every challenge is welcome,” she continued. “If you fight and like to be on top and testing yourself at all times, you really want motivation to keep breaking records. After I’m gone [from ATT], it’s entirely up to Kayla to sign with the UFC. I’ll be there waiting for anything. Of course, it will be much better now that we are on different sides.