At the start of 2022, Nunes made wholesale changes to her team, preparation, and future camps. With the goal of opening her own personal training space, the former two-division titleholder left ATT and longtime head coach Mike Brown.
The move came after she fell to her first defeat in 13 fights and since a 2014 setback to Cat Zingano. The woman who’s appeared to make Nunes re-think her strategy and situation is Julianna Peña. At UFC 269 in December, “The Venezuelan Vixen” achieved what most believed to be virtually impossible: dethroning the “Lioness.”
Joining a shocked sold-out crowd and fighters’ area inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, as well as millions watching at home, in disbelief was Harrison.
In a recent interview with ESPN MMA, Harrison discussed the feelings she went through after watching her teammate, who she’d helped prepare for the title defense, emphatically submitted in the UFC 269 co-main event.
“I was shocked. Everyone was making assumptions about it, but to be honest with you, Amanda was a teammate of mine, she was someone that I helped train for this fight,” said Harrison. “When I said I bleed ATT, I meant it. I wanted her to win. I was shocked. I was as shocked as the rest of the world. I was heartbroken for her.”
The two-time Olympic gold medalist and unbeaten MMA lightweight continues to bleed ATT and assured Nunes after the shock result that they’d go back to work in the gym and make things right.
But with the Brazilian seeking fresh pastures, Harrison’s time going toe-to-toe with Nunes on the mats is over, something she says “sucks.”
Harrison: I Got A Lot Better Training With Nunes
Further into her interview with Marc Raimondi, Harrison gave her reaction to Nunes’ decision to part ways with ATT, the gym she’d been a part of throughout her development from defeat to Zingano in 2014 to dominant double champion in 2021.
First and foremost, the sport’s most sought-after free agent wished her former teammate well for the future and suggested the Brazilian had to do whatever she felt was best for her and her family.
“At this time, my thoughts (on her departure) are, you’ve gotta do what you think is best for you and your family. I wish her the best of luck. That’s it.”
Despite understanding the reasons behind Nunes’ exit, Harrison admitted she was disappointed to no longer have the chance to develop and sharpen her tools by training alongside a woman most regard as the greatest of all time.
“I mean, it sucks cause like, she’s still one of the best. That one loss doesn’t change that,” Harrison continued. “So to not be able to train with her does suck. I think that every time I went with her, it helped me. I think it helped her as well.
“Whether you wanna admit or not, guys talk about Colby (Covington) and Jorge (Masvidal), the ego, I have it too, so I wanna win those exchanges, I wanna win those rounds, I wanna push her, she wants to push me. I got a lot better in the times that we trained together. So to miss out on that is a bummer, for sure,” concluded Harrison.
While Nunes focuses on a stint coaching this year’s edition of The Ultimate Fighter ahead of her rematch with Peña, Harrison’s future is still unclear.
While most expected the undefeated star to be a future challenge for Nunes after UFC 269, the Brazilian’s defeat has perhaps delayed any chance of that and slightly hampered its appeal.
Nevertheless, with Nunes still holding 145-pound gold and a move to the UFC seeming inevitable sooner or later for Harrison, perhaps sooner given the apparent breakdown in negotiations with the PFL, it appears likely another clash of former ATT teammates is going to go down in the future.
Would you like to see former teammates Kayla Harrison and Amanda Nunes share the Octagon down the line?