At the final pay-per-view of 2021, Peña proved herself right and a whole lot of people across the MMA community wrong. Not only did she surprise fans and pundits with her pre-fight confidence, which came despite what many perceived to be an insurmountable task, but she provided one of the most shocking moments in the promotion’s history on fight night.
In the second round of the co-main event, “The Venezuelan Vixen” forced Nunes, the then-double champ who was unbeaten since 2014, to tap. According to the newly-crowned 135-pound queen, the “Lioness” was exposed on December 11.
Now three months gone from the memorable result, the former bantamweight titleholder has attempted to provide some context behind her disappointing, lackluster, and defeated performance at UFC 269.
According to the Brazilian, her pre-fight camp was a “mess,” not only due to the initial summer delay after she contracted COVID-19 but because of injuries she carried during preparation and into the event itself.
Peña: If You’re Injured, Don’t Fight
During a recent interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, Peña responded to Nunes’ claims and take on her first setback in 13 outings.
Having experienced two serious knee injuries herself across her career, the champ admitted she has sympathy for her rival and understands what she’s been going through.
But while she sees it as a “legitimate excuse,” Peña reminded Nunes that nobody was forcing her to compete. “The Venezuelan Vixen” said that if the consensus female GOAT’s injury was bad enough to have a doctor encourage her to withdraw, she simply should have delayed the fight.
“It’s a tough situation for me to hear that because I’ve torn both my knees out. I have come back from two devastating knee injuries,” said Peña. “So, in one regard, I hear you, girl. I feel ya. I 100% know exactly what you are feeling like, you know. I have had that time off to reconstruct my knees, and to build them back, and to still be competing at the highest level that there is.
“So, my knees are not an excuse to say I shouldn’t have shown up to the fight. If your knees are bad, don’t fight,” added Peña. “Nobody’s forcing a gun up to your head. Nobody’s making you do this. So, if you want to say that it was because you were injured, don’t take the fight, that’s fine. I’m sure we can find somebody else more than willing to step into that spot instead. I agree, fighters don’t like excuses, but then I also agree that that is a legitimate excuse. But then I also say, then fix it and let’s figure out how we can keep this party rolling,” Peña concluded.
From the latest injury claim and discussion about the UFC 269 contest to controversial motherhood statements, the back and forth between Nunes and Peña has certainly not slowed since their December clash.
Now, with the pair set to coach this year’s edition of The Ultimate Fighter ahead of their rematch, it stands to reason we’re set for many more exchanges in the coming months.
Do you think Julianna Peña will upset the odds again when she shares the Octagon with Amanda Nunes for the second time later this year?