‘She’s being forced to fight me’ — Julianna Peña says Amanda Nunes didn’t want trilogy fight

According to Julianna Peña, the reigning UFC bantamweight champion was at risk of being stripped if she didn’t accept a fight with her.

By: Kristen King | 2 months ago
‘She’s being forced to fight me’ — Julianna Peña says Amanda Nunes didn’t want trilogy fight
July 28, 2022, Dallas, Texas, DALLAS, TX, United States: DALLAS, TX - July 28: Julianna Peoa answers questions for the press with fans in attendance at American Airlines Center for UFC 277 - Peoa vs Nunes 2 : press conference, PK, Pressekonferenz on July 28, 2022 in Dallas, Texas, United States. Dallas, Texas United States - ZUMAp175 20220728_zsa_p175_002 Copyright: xLouisxGrassex

Julianna Peña says the UFC had to force Amanda Nunes’ hand to agree to a trilogy. 

This past Friday, the promotion announced that Nunes vs. Peña III would headline UFC 289, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for June 10 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. To the ‘Lioness,’ she was surprised to see the ‘Venezuelan Vixen’ so soon after their most recent fight. 

“I thought it was going to be [Irene Aldana],” said Nunes in a recent interview with ESPN. “Everything changed to Julianna, and I was OK with it, too. No matter what, whatever UFC showed me [for an] opponent, I’m going to be happy to defend my belt.”

Julianna Peña not surprised to get Amanda Nunes trilogy

To Peña, there was no surprise in seeing her third (and potentially final) fight with Nunes come to fruition. Now 1-1 after a pair of fights at UFC 269 and UFC 277, the former UFC bantamweight champion said this was the only fight she would have accepted from the UFC. 

“She said that I had to go fight Irene in order to fight for the belt against her again. Fight and win against Irene,” said Peña on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “But I don’t know how Irene comes up in this conversation at all. We’re 1-1. This is the biggest women’s mixed martial arts fight in history. It’s a trilogy fight. It’s a Rocky story.

“I think the UFC knows that,“ continued Peña. “They know how to do business. They know how to do big business and make big fights. It’s the only fight that I called for. And I said, ‘You know what, if you don’t want to fight me, Amanda, which the brass told me directly, she does not want to fight me’.”

Nunes initially said Peña should have to fight Aldana to earn another championship opportunity, and the UFC approached her about the potential fight. However, the SikJitsu stalwart refused, which led the promotion to revisit the trilogy with Nunes. 

And from what Peña heard, Nunes was on the verge of being stripped if she refused to agree to it. 

“I said [to the UFC], ‘I’m not fighting Irene, I’m fighting Amanda,’” said Peña. “‘When she decides that she’s gonna take that fight, you let me know, you give me a call, because that’s the only fight that I’m taking.’ I said, ‘You know what, if you want, go ahead, put Irene in front of me, go ahead and make that Irene vs. Amanda [fight], and instead you can skip the fight that makes the most sense for everybody and go ahead and do Irene and Amanda.’

“They said that if she didn’t fight against me that she would be stripped, and so she had no choice but to fight me,” continued Peña. “She doesn’t wanna fight me. They told me she doesn’t want to fight me, and she’s being forced to fight me, because this is the only fight that makes sense.”

Julianna Peña’s previous title stripping claims

Peña has previously said that Nunes should be stripped after their original fight at UFC 265 was nixed after the latter caught COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw. For Peña, that was another sign that Nunes was avoiding a fight with her. 

“If you’re not going to fight for the belt at 135 pounds, and if the weight cut is an issue, or if you don’t want to come down and compete at this weight class any more, then we’ve got to keep the division pushing,” said Peña in 2021. “I think other fighters that have had the belt have been stripped for less. [Former UFC flyweight champion] Nicco Montano didn’t even get a break at all. They were just like, ‘You’re done.’ So they stripped her right away. And in the men’s division, too, I feel like they strip people a lot faster.”

Of course, Nunes and Peña were rescheduled for UFC 269, where the latter upset the former via second-round rear-naked choke. An immediate rematch was scheduled, and the Brazilian claimed the UFC bantamweight championship again with a unanimous decision against Peña. 

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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