Sportsnet: What did you eat after you beat up Ronda Rousey?
Nunes: Chicken wings.
Great choice. How many times have you watched that fight?
A million times. [Laughs.] I just start to smile [thinking of it] because it was a huge moment for me. I watch over and over. I didn’t have any mistakes. I land the first jab and from that first punch I know right away: she’s down.
You said you knew you were going to “beat the shit” out of her.
I’ve been training for Ronda Rousey since my UFC debut [in 2013]. And I know one day I will fight Ronda Rousey because at the time she was the champion. But everything’s changing. She was the challenger that night. I was the champion. I was ready for her.
Has life changed since you beat her?
Yeah. Actually, I have a little money to take care of my life strategy. And I’m more happy, of course.
Are you driving fancy cars and eating chocolate and enjoying yourself these days?
Oh, yeah. I eat a lot of chocolate because I love it. I eat the food that I like, and drink my beer—I love beer. When I start the camp, I don’t drink anymore, and I love to drink after the fight. I’ve been drinking one beer every day for sure. [Laughs.]
You seem like a very happy person. That’s not what people might expect of somebody who fights in cages for a living.
[Laughs.] Yes. I love to be happy. I think you are happy if you make somebody else happy around you. My job [is] to go inside the cage the day of the fight. You have to be like a lion. Outside of the cage, I’m in a completely different situation. I’m not gonna be mad outside the cage.
How does your hand feel when you land a good punch?
I feel it in my bones.
You’ve won the belt. You’ve defended it. How hard would it be to lose it?
Actually, I will be a champion for a long time. I never think about losing the belt because I know I’m capable to keep this belt for a while. I am better than all those girls in this division.
You said beating Miesha Tate for the title last July was tougher than beating Rousey. Did that win also mean more to you—becoming Brazil’s first female UFC champion, and UFC’s first openly gay champion?
That moment was huge for me. My girlfriend [fellow UFC fighter Nina Ansaroff] was a big part of it. She helped me in every way for that moment to happen, and to share with her and hug her was unbelievable. And I want to show everybody, if you’re gay it’s not anything bad for people. You [can] be happy. You can have your dream come true and be gay at the same time. This is not supposed to be a big deal. If the world thinks like that, one day it’s gonna be a better place.
Your next goal is the featherweight title. You want two belts?
Yes, for sure. I want to keep growing in this sport and it’s never happened—a girl try to get belts in two divisions. I want to be the first one, like I was the first Brazilian, the first openly gay champion and now I want to be the first one holding two belts in two divisions. The fans gonna love it. If the UFC gives me the opportunity, I love it.
If you could pick your next fight and opponent, who would it be?
Whoever wins this next fight for [the] 145-pound belt—Holly [Holm] or Germaine [de Randamie]—I [would] love to fight. I beat Germaine already. If Holly Holm beats her, I love to fight Holly for the 145 belt.
Will you beat the shit out of her?
Yeah, I will be ready, you know? But we never know if it’s gonna be different from what we think. But I will be ready for battle. Whoever it is, is gonna fight a lion.
Who will win that featherweight title fight?
I fight Germaine before, I know her weakness is ground game and grappling. I think Holly Holm has a better chance because she has enough grappling to take Germaine down and ground-and-pound or something like that. But only if Holly is able to get into grapple with her. This fight is interesting. It is hard to pick a winner. I will be there to watch. I can’t wait to see.
What does it mean to “train like a lion”?
I say that because if you watch how a lion attack the other animal, the lion is very smart. I look at myself like that. I’m gonna use my strategy.
How’s your trash talk?
Honestly, I don’t like trash talk, because we gonna fight anyways, right? We don’t need to trash talk.
You have to be confident about yourself. And talking about how confident you are about your skills? Just fight.
When did you realize you were a good fighter?
Only when I start to train jujitsu. I start to compete. I saw a couple guys in my gym training MMA and I start training. My uncle was a fighter too, and it’s kind of in my blood.
You fell in love with this sport while training against men. What did you love about that?
The thing I like about grappling with the men [is] because they never want to be submit by a girl and they work harder to make it not happen, and make me work harder to try to submit them. And like this I evolve a lot. Like this we go to the next level.
Did you look up to any fighter before you turned pro?
My idol always was my mommy because she was a very tough woman. She raised me and my sisters. It was pretty tough, how she raised us, but she did it. We never struggling to have food, anything like that. it was pretty hard for her to do everything.
She told you the first strike has to be yours.
Yes. This is the first thing in my mind. My mommy always say that, “You have to be the first.” I always do that.
You definitely had the first strike against Rousey. I heard that after the fight you were really fired up in your dressing room.
Actually, I was a little bit upset. Because everything was about her, not about me. I was the champion, she was the challenger, but only because she’s famous she had more attention than me. She had a lot of people there [at promotional events] to see her, but she didn’t show up. For me, she acts a little bit like she’s expecting the fame and it makes me upset.
Before your next fight, all the attention will be on you.
Yes, I think so. Supposed to be, because I’m the real champion. You’re supposed to be the one everybody’s there to see. No need to be crazy about it but the champion always is the champion. This fight was different only because she’s famous, but she’s famous because UFC make her famous. UFC can make whoever famous. Right now, they bring me to a lot of places, they show me to the world. This is the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve been enjoying, having fun with my belt.
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