Chael Sonnen believes UFC women’s featherweight champion Amanda Nunes gave a “very right” reason behind her decision to leave American Top Team earlier this year.
In 2021, it looked like everything was going relatively well at ATT when it came to its two main female athletes. In addition to Nunes attending PFL events to support Harrison, the two-time women’s lightweight champion returned the favor at UFC 269 in December.
The cordial relationship, and Harrison’s suggestion that the possibility of the duo ever fighting made no difference in the gym, was perhaps surprising at the time and has since crumbled with Nunes’ exit from the Coconut-based gym. Creek.
While the departure was initially attributed to the Brazilian’s desire to create her own personal setup, Nunes recently delved into a more captivating reason. The ‘lioness’ admitted that Harrison’s words made it clear she was no longer ‘safe’ on her home turf.
For former UFC star Chael Sonnen, that reason makes sense given how vocal Harrison has been in recent months when it comes to the Nunes showdown down the line.
“Amanda Nunes came out and revealed why she left ATT…She said it had a lot to do with Kayla Harrison,” Sonnen said during a video uploaded to her YouTube channel. “Kayla was talking, and we all noticed. And I don’t know if Kayla ever crossed a line, in all honesty. Every gym has their rule on where these lines go… I don’t know what it is at American Top Team.
“I had never seen anyone as vocal as Kayla, other than Colby (Covington), but it was Colby who was asked to leave. And I heard Kayla speak, and she was like, ‘J ‘I would like to go to the UFC, and I think I can win the championship, and I trained with Amanda.’ I mean, she was talking,” Sonnen added. “It was helpful. I enjoyed it from where I was sitting. But I didn’t consider it from Amanda’s perspective.
Sonnen: Nunes could have made things ugly with Harrison
Much of the discussion about Harrison facing then-teammate Nunes took place as the two-time Olympic gold medalist was testing the waters of free agency following the 2021 PFL season.
With that in mind, and with a possible UFC finish on the cards at the time, Sonnen believes it was very fair for Nunes to seek a training facility away from a future rival. The former UFC and Bellator fighter also suggested that the Brazilian’s decision to remain silent and leave prevented a potentially “ugly” situation following Harrison’s remarks.
“That’s very fair of Amanda, because what if Kayla was right? Losing your championship is hard enough. Having a real competitor coming in at the same time with the same dream trying to take everything you have is hard enough, it’s a pretty stressful situation. Having that person doing it side-by-side with you in a gym that provides an opportunity for sex because of you could hurt someone’s feelings, of course.
“Amanda is very fair in saying that…It was because of things Kayla said about the practice room. It’s selfish, it’s the fan, I enjoyed the drama. (I wasn’t putting myself in Amanda’s shoes… (Harrison said) ‘With any level of experience, I’m very confident that I can come out and beat Amanda.’ That’s a lot to say about your teammate …It could have been very ugly, but Amanda didn’t say anything… Amanda chose not to say anything and has now chosen to leave.
While Harrison is currently pushing for a third straight PFL championship with the backing of ATT, Nunes is gearing up for her rematch with Julianna Peña, which is set to headline UFC 277 in July. Judging by recent social media posts, she does this in her own development center.
What do you think of Amanda Nunes’ decision to leave ATT because of Kayla Harrison?