Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Julianna Peña believes she’s responsible for bringing Amanda Nunes back to relevance. For ‘The Venezuelan Vixen,’ the current title holder and double-champ benefitted from their UFC 269 bout, which ended in a major upset.
Peña did an interview with journalist Shakiel Mahjouri right before she was forced off her UFC 289 trilogy with ‘The Lioness.’
Julianna Peña takes credit for making Amanda Nunes ‘relevant’
Prior to their first fight in 2021, Nunes was deemed as the all-time great of women’s MMA. At the time, she was on a 12-fight wins streak and had defended both her bantamweight and middleweight titles in dominant fashion.
But because of the upset, Peña feels fans started to care about the Brazilian champion again.
“Everybody always has that one person that’s just stuck in their butt and that’s me for Amanda,” she said (quotes by MMA Mania).
“I know that she knows that. I think at the end of the day she’s probably really thankful for me making her relevant again when I beat her because no one really cared about Amanda Nunes because she was just stomping everybody out and knocking them out in the first round.
So, I think that they were excited to see somebody come in and stop her dead in her tracks with dominance and I think they were excited to see the savagery and the heart that I had.
“The determination to never give up in the second fight and unfortunately for me, I ran out of time.”
Amanda Nunes had unflattering words for Julianna Peña
During this week’s media day ahead of Saturday’s UFC 289, Nunes had some disparaging words for Julianna Peña. As she told reporters, her motivation to return was out of the displeasure of seeing her rival as the reigning champion.
“I decided to not retire, because if I retire, I leave my belt with Julianna. No way. No way. It can be with somebody else, but with Julianna, no.
“She’s not that good. That was harder to swallow. She’s crazy. She goes forward and punches, and just being tough, and she has the belt. She can get hit. No. No way.
“I knew I’m going to go back there and get that belt again. The second fight, I knew I’m getting my belt back, and I did it.”
Julianna Peña fires back
The 33-year-old Peña had the chance to respond to Nunes’ previous statements during a Q&A session on Friday.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’re 1-1 and I actually have a leg up on her because I was not stopped, I was not finished, I was never down and out. Like Rocky said, it’s not about how many times you get hit, it’s about how many times you get hit and keep coming forward,” she said (via MMA Fighting).
Peña also attacked Nunes’ star power, or in her statement, the lack thereof.
“Ronda [Rousey] had such a massive following. She was main-eventing everything. And then if you go to Amanda’s last seven fights, she’s only main-evented twice. One of them was because of an injury … and the second one was me — and this third one was going to be me but I had to fall out due to injury myself.
“Me beating her made her relevant again because she hasn’t had the ability to main event in any of her title fights.
“In the last seven, literally only two main events. If you look at the Countdown numbers, if you look at the Embedded numbers — I mean, the co-main event has seven times more views than Amanda’s and she’s the main event. So she can’t draw flies. I’m just saying.”
Nunes will headline UFC 289 this weekend for her first title defense in her second stint as women’s bantamweight champion. She will face Irene Aldana, who stepped in as a replacement for Julianna Peña.
Co-headlining the event is a lightweight bout between former champion Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush, a fight that may or may not be a title eliminator.
About the author