The Octagon will travel to Canada for the second time this year when UFC 215 hits Edmonton, Alberta this Saturday. Scheduled for the co-main event that night is Amanda Nunes’ second title defense, as the UFC’s women’s bantamweight champion is set to face Valentina Shevchenko up in Canada.
In a recent conversation with Brazilian reporters in Las Vegas, though, the topic shifted to a much less pleasurable topic when Nunes was asked about an alleged doping problem at American Top Team in Florida, where “The Lioness” prepares for her bouts. Teammates such as Junior dos Santos, Gleison Tibau and Amanda Ribas have failed tests in the past, even though some of these results might have been caused by tainted supplements. So, how does Nunes make sure that her title reign isn’t ended by missing a prohibited ingredient in her protein shake?
“I don’t take any supplements from outside of the country”, Nunes said. “Even a water that I buy in the market, if there’s anything different, I’ll send a message to Jeff [Novitzky, the UFC’s anti-doping official]. I also have great contact with USADA, so if anything happens, it’s because someone put something in my drink and I didn’t see it [laughs].”
“Athletes have to be very careful with these things, it’s very important. You can’t take anything. Even in supplementation, the athlete thinks there is nothing wrong with it and takes it, so we have to be always careful and stay in contact with USADA. If you don’t have that direct contact you will go through your manager, have the manager stay connected and that’s where you’ll be policing those things.”
Still, doping controversy is the last thing on Nunes’ mind right now. Set to fight Shevchenko in a rematch of a 2016 bout that Nunes narrowly won, the champion has trained for the Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian thaiboxer for the third time – the two were set to face each other at UFC 213 last July before Nunes withdrew from the contest the day of due to sinusitis.
“The weather in Las Vegas is pretty heavy for me”, Nunes explained how things went from bad to worse on July 9. “And last time it was really hot, I could not stay outside, it was gross like that. So, in Edmonton, the climate is the same as in Florida, it will be better for me.”
Despite the different date for the rematch, Nunes doesn’t think the intangibles for the fight have changed all that much. Nunes said that her preparation wasn’t different than before, that she is still very confident and that, with a complete camp and no health problems, nobody can take the belt from her.
“I took a week and a half to rest, and so I came back and I continued the old preparation scheme”, Nunes said. “We increased the sparring time, a small dosage at the right time and very controlled. We did everything like the last camp, training for five rounds, so let’s go to war.”
That is what the two striking experts did last time. And while Nunes seemed to run away with the fight early at UFC 196, it was Shevchenko who rallied back big time in the third and last round. This time, they will go at it for two more stanzas, but Nunes is confident that she will go to 2-0 against her rival even over the course of 25 minutes.
“Surely, if this fight goes beyond the third round, if it goes to the fifth, I’ll be prepared”, Nunes said. “There’s no secret, you’re not going to enter the cage without being ready, there’s no such thing. I’m prepared for anything, a knockout, a submission, five rounds. [But] I will not leave it in the judges’ hands.”