It’s not exactly a secret that Julianna Pena isn’t the world’s biggest Ronda Rousey fan.
Pena’s beef with the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion traces back to The Ultimate Fighter 18. Pena, as a part of Miesha Tate’s team, was matched up with Shayna Baszler, Rousey’s friend and coach.
Before their matchup, Rousey claimed Pena didn’t belong in the same ring as Baszler. But Pena submitted the veteran Baszler, then went on to win the entire tournament, becoming the first TUF women’s champion.
“You don’t forgot something like that,” Pena recently told MMA Fighting. “When someone disrespects you like Ronda did to me you don’t forget that.”
Back then, Rousey was well on her way to superstardom, but now, Pena is the one on the rise. Unbeaten in four official UFC fights (seven including the TUF tourney), Pena will meet Valentina Shevchenko in the main event of UFC on FOX 23 on Saturday in Denver, with the winner expected to get the next shot at current women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.
Rousey, of course, has taken a big tumble, as she’s been knocked out in back-to-back fights by Holly Holm and Nunes.
So as far as Pena is concerned, for now, fighting Rousey isn’t on her radar.
“What I’m here to do it prove I’m the best fighter in the world,” Pena said. “Ronda doesn’t have the belt anymore. Amanda Nunes does. Beating Ronda does not prove to the world that I’m the best fighter, so I have no time for that right now. I’m going to beat Valentina and then I’m going to fight Amanda and show everyone who’s the best.”
That’s not to say Pena never wants to fight Rousey. For one, she just doesn’t like Rousey, and for another, even without the belt, it’s still a big paycheck just based on Rousey’s star power.
Pena questioned whether Rousey still has her heart in the game after her 48-second loss to Nunes at UFC 207.
“I predicted a first-round knockout,” Pena said. “I saw it coming. Ronda doesn’t like being punched in the face nothing is going to change that. Don’t be afraid of her takedowns, go in close and hit her and hit her again and again. We don’t even know if she’s going to come back so I can’t think too much about Ronda right now. But yeah, if the fight came up at the right time of course I’d still take it.”