Former UFC champ explains title shot snub

The best laid UFC plans often go awry.

By: Nate Wilcox | 4 weeks ago
Former UFC champ explains title shot snub
Julianna Pena at a UFC media event. | Tomaz Jr / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

Last week the UFC announced a title fight between Mayra Bueno Silva and Raquel Pennington for UFC . 297 in January. They’ll be fighting for Amanda Nunes’ vacated women’s bantamweight title.

Manu fans were surprised Julianna Pena didn’t get invited to the ball.

Ex-UFC champ Juliana Peña says injury prevented title shot

But Pena wants fans to know she’s still going to fight for the title.

In a recent interview with the MMA Hour, the former bantamweight champion explained her absence from the UFC’s title plans in January.

“I’m sorry you guys are going to be force fed this horrible interim title fight — it’s going to be interim because they’re belt warming until I come back,” Peña said. “Apologies that I can’t compete, but my next fight will be for a title. Whoever wins between those two chicks, I’ll be fighting the winner.

“I know that everyone didn’t believe me when I said I had to fall out when I was fighting Amanda [for the trilogy bout], but I legitimately did have an injury and I’m still trying to heal from that. I’m not trying to give out every single injury because you have to keep a couple of cards close to the chest, but I am injured. I won’t be back until summer.”

Mayra Bueno Silva gets title shot off ‘no contest’

Circumstances forced the UFC into an awkward spot, as Bueno Silva won’t be entering the fight off a win.

She defeated former champ Holly Holm convincingly but had the result overturned due to a drug test failure for Adderall.

“To all my fans, it is with deep regret that I have to announce I failed a drug test that I took the week of my fight against Holly Holm. I want to begin by saying I have never in my life taken a substance to enhance my ability in or outside the cage. I have tested positive for a substance that is consistent with the prescription medication I take for my ADHD. I have been dealing with this disorder my entire life and it affects me in a multitude of ways.

“I have provided a plethora of documents and explanations to USADA and the Nevada State Commission detailing the disorder, the effects of the disorder on my daily life and my decision making in the ingestion of the prescription medicine. I am fully cooperating with USADA, the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the UFC to make sure that all information is available and I fully acknowledge the presence of the substance in my system. I discontinued this medication at the beginning of fight week, like I always have in the past. So while it appeared in a small amount in my system, I am told by experts that it would not have an effect on my in-competition performance at that level.

“Please before you make any judgements understand that I have been dealing with this my whole life and I am devastated that this has happened in my career. I look forward to coming to a resolution and putting this behind me. I look forward to fighting again for the best organization in the world. I am the next champion and I am ready to fight!”

Despite having the win overturned by USADA, it seems like the UFC was ready to reward her for her performance anyway and here we are.

UFC 297 will take place on January 20, 2024, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It marks the promotion’s seventh return to that city but the first since 2018.

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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