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UFC champion Amanda Nunes finds motivation in baby daughter

Two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes was serious when she hinted at retirement after winning her 11th straight fight in July.

She had accomplished more than any other female fighter and wasn’t sure what else she could achieve.

Then she met Reagan.

Nunes’ wife, UFC strawweight Nina Ansaroff, gave birth to the couple’s first child in September, and Nunes immediately found motivation.

The women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion will defend the featherweight belt against Megan Anderson in one of three title fights at UFC 259 on Saturday at the Apex.

“I realized I want to keep doing what I’m doing, break all the records, defend all the belts,” Nunes said. “I want to collect as many memories as I can with her in the cage with me right by my side. I feel like when she grows, she will be able to look at all the pictures and smile.”

Nunes, 32, immediately took to motherhood, which came as a surprise to her wife.

Ansaroff always wanted to have a baby, but Nunes was more hesitant. After Ansaroff had her four-fight winning streak snapped and her path to the title derailed with a loss in June 2019, she decided it was time — with or without Nunes being committed to the idea, Ansaroff joked this week.

Now Nunes and Reagan are inseparable. The baby only left the champion’s lap during interviews Wednesday for a quick diaper change.

“She’s a goofy mom, but she’s a great mom,” Ansaroff said. “She stepped up in a huge way that I didn’t expect. Amanda was nervous until the day she saw the baby and then she was like, ‘I want another one.’”

Reagan has been a mainstay at the gym and has Nunes waking up early in the morning, something the Brazil native who lives in South Florida seldom did.

“She is such a blessing,” Nunes said. “I’m very happy. She helps me in many ways. She makes everything better. I want to see more and more of those belts at home and see them forever. Now, I have my baby and we can collect a lot of memories together. I feel like that’s the main thing moving me forward and keeping me motivated.”

It’s rare to see Nunes without a smile — until she steps into the cage.

“I’m always laughing, and I’m happier than I ever was,” she said. “But I’m still ‘The Lioness.’ When I step in the cage, I become a warrior.

“You know every time you step in there, somebody wants to take everything from you. Megan is very dangerous. She’s long, she knows how to use her reach. I know what she’s capable of, so I can’t sleep on her. But at the same time, I’m ready.”

Ansaroff is helping Nunes prepare for the fight, with Regan keeping a watchful eye in the gym. Ansaroff will make her return against Mackenzie Dern on April 10.

“Amanda definitely thought about retiring, but now she wants to make all these memories with the baby so one day she can show her,” Ansaroff said. “Plus, babies aren’t cheap, and we want more.”

The Nunes-Anderson bout is part of a pay-per-view card that includes a bantamweight title fight between Aljamain Sterling and champion Petr Yan. Light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz will defend his belt against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in the main event. The main card will start at 7 p.m.

Contact Adam Hill at Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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