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Morning Report: Julianna Peña responds to Amanda Nunes’ dismissal of her: ‘It’s clear as day she doesn’t want to fight me’

Julianna Pena will try to make weight at the UFC on FOX 23 weigh-ins Friday afternoon.
Julianna Pena will try to make weight at the UFC on FOX 23 weigh-ins Friday afternoon.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

“The Venezuelan Vixen” is none too pleased with Amanda Nunes right now.

On Saturday night, Nunes successfully defended her featherweight championship with a first-round drubbing of Megan Anderson. After the win, the question quickly turned to what would be next for the greatest female fighter of all-time as Nunes and the answer came in the form of Julianna Peña.

Peña is currently the sixth-ranked bantamweight in the world and was set to face Holly Holm at a Fight Night event on May 8. However, it was recently revealed that Holm would be forced to withdraw from that scheduled date, and following Nunes’ win, Peña called for a bantamweight title shot instead, something UFC President Dana White seemed amenable too. Unfortunately for Peña, Nunes was less enthused, saying she believed Peña needed another win to warrant a title shot. It was a response that Peña finds “ridiculous.”

“She’s been turning down a fight for a long time now,” Peña told The Schmo. “I think that her asking me to fight (Germaine de Randamie) again is comical. To me it’s clear as day she doesn’t want to fight me. She doesn’t want to fight a wrestler and a grappler. She’s been fighting nothing but pure strikers ever since she won the belt against Miesha.

“The funny thing about her wanting me to fight Germaine, like, you didn’t ask Holly to fight one more, you didn’t ask Megan Anderson to fight one more, you didn’t ask Felicia Spencer to fight one more. All these girls are new to the division with .500 records but for me for some reason it’s always, ‘Oh, she’s got to fight one more. She’s got to be in the mix.’ I’ve been in the mix. I’ve been here. I’ve been fighting just as long as she has and I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that she would ask me to fight one more, again, especially since Holly pulled out.”

This is not the first time Nunes has dismissed Peña’s calls for a title shot. Following her submission win over Sara McMann in January, Peña used her post-fight interview to call for a title shot, which Nunes shot down.

And unfortunately for Peña, the circumstances have not demonstrably changed since then. Peña is still only on a one-fight winning streak and was submitted this past October by Germaine de Randamie. But Peña doesn’t believe that’s why Nunes wants her to get another win. Peña says it’s because Nunes is afraid to face her.

“If you look at Cat Zingano, she was a great grappler, a great wrestler, and she was great in the division,” Peña said. “Then if you look at Sara McMann, a silver (medal winning) Olympic wrestler, a great grappler. I beat them both so I now think I hold the reins as the best grappler in the division. . .

“Stylistically, I’m the worst possible matchup out there for her and she knows that. So it’s just kind of frustrating that she would ask me to again fight one more. Why don’t you ever ask anybody else to fight one more? Why is it just me?”

That question ultimately may not matter. Dana White has shown an interest in booking the fight, and though Peña does not have an undeniable case for a title shot, there are not many other options for Nunes at this point. She’s functionally cleaned out two divisions and anyone the UFC would choose to put in against her will be in substantially similar circumstances as Peña. Nunes herself has said that though she thinks Peña should get another win, if that’s what the UFC wants she will oblige “The Venezuelan Vixen,” but she’ll need a little bit of time to get her body ready to drop back down to bantamweight, something Peña says she’s fine with so long as it means she finally gets her chance to fight for a title.

“She hasn’t defended her title at 135 pounds since 2019,” Peña said. “So if she needs longer time to cut the weight and come down to 135 since she says she’s super big right now, then I’ll wait if that’s what it means to be able to fight for the title.”


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