clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Amanda Nunes: Julianna Pena is next if Ronda Rousey doesn’t return for ‘historic’ fight in New York

New, comments
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Ronda Rousey hasn’t fought since losing her UFC belt to Holly Holm in November, but newly crowned bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is hoping for her to return to action in November.

Nunes submitted Miesha Tate in the first round at UFC 200 on July 9, and told the media in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that it makes sense to welcome Rousey back in a title fight on Nov. 12, when the UFC will host its first event at Madison Square Garden.

"That’s the fight that makes sense because Ronda was one of the best fighters of all times, and I’m the champion," Nunes said. "I also made history for my country, and this is a fight that makes sense for that huge event, one of the biggest pay-per-views in the UFC. I will take my country with me, and she will be fighting in her country. I want this fight in New York. It will be historic."

If Rousey decides not to return this year, Nunes says that Julianna Pena, who beat Cat Zigano at UFC 200, deserves the shot.

"Julianna is on a winning streak now. If Ronda doesn’t come back, it’s going to be Julianna, for sure," she said. "But I believe (Ronda) will come back."

Rousey was dominant for years in mixed martial arts, and the new champion gave an honest answer when asked if "Rowdy" will be the same after suffering her first defeat.

"I don’t think so," Nunes said. "Ronda had her time and that buzz around her. She knows it has cooled down now. She knows she lost. That’s the problem. She was undefeated for a long time and doesn’t know how to deal with a loss now. I started my career with a loss, getting ‘slapped’ by life. Ronda doesn’t know how to deal with that. She fought inferior girls, and those girls fell in her game, that pressure from the UFC and media, and fell in the armbar. But that won’t happen with me because I’m mentally stronger. And I have the belt with me. She knows that, and that’s why she’s avoiding it.

"She knows the power of having (the belt) at home, that’s why she doesn’t know if she returns or not," Nunes continued. "(The belt) gives you strength. That’s why Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo were champions for so long. Having this belt gives me extra strength. I’m hungry to fight Ronda now. It’s the Lioness’ Era now. Everything that happened has helped me. I will hold this belt with everything I have. I want to retire as champion, and I will make that happen."

Coming off wins over Tate, Valentina Shevchenko, Sara McMann and Shayna Baszler, the Brazilian ranks Rousey above rising contenders Pena and Shevchenko in terms of tougher match-ups style-wise, and looks back at Holm’s win over Rousey as an inspiration for a potential clash.

"It will be similar to Holly’s strategy, but with a bit more power and speed," she said. "Holly moved a lot to the sides, and I will go there to knock her out. When I touch Ronda, I’ll always try to get the knockout. But if we go to the ground, I’ll be ready for anything."