Well, ask and you will receive it seems for bantamweight contender, Julianna Pena. Whilst not set in stone yet, UFC president Dana White has revealed that he’s thought about the possibility of pairing The Ultimate Fighter 18 victor with current two-weight champion, Amanda Nunes for bantamweight spoils next.
Continuously calling for a clash against the Bahia division pacesetter, Pena rebounded to winning-ways at UFC 257 in January on ‘Fight Island’ — submitting former title challenger, Sara McMann with a third round rear-naked choke.
Expected to clash with former bantamweight champion, the ever-present, Holly Holm at a May 8th. event — Pena is now in search of a new opponent after the former was forced to remove herself from proceedings due to an undisclosed injury.
It’s the ideal scenario for Pena it seems, who has only continued her brash callout of Nunes in the weeks since her bout with Holm was shelved, claiming if she eventually matched with the Brazilian, then the official come fight night would have to pull her off of Nunes.
“Because she (Amanda Nunes) knows stylistically that I’m the worst matchup for her,” Pena replied when asked during a recent interview with ESPN MMA reporter, Ariel Helwani, why Nunes doesn’t want to fight her. “Do you remember — let’s go back, do you remember when she fought Cat Zingano? What happened in that fight? She lost. She curled up in the fetal position and the referee had to freakin’ pull Cat off of her.“
“I beat Cat. I just beat the other best wrestler in the division, Sara McMann, a silver (medalist) Olympic wrestler,” Pena said.”I am the best wrestler in the division. I’m holding the title for the best wrestler in the division. And she knows she’s going to be curled up in the fetal position — she quit in that fight, and she knows she’s going to have to quit again. The ref’s going to have to pull me off too, I’m going to put her in those uncomfortable positions, and she’s not going to want to fight me. She’s going to find a way out of this fight yet again.“
With these continued calls for a matchup against Nunes, it seems Pena has gotten the attention of UFC leader, White, who revealed recently that he’s thinking about possibly matching the two together.
“Right now — alright, I’ll give you a little something that we’re talking about right now,” White said during a recent interview with TMZ Sports. “So, Julianna Pena has been driving me f*cking bananas, okay? (She) Will not stop terrorizing me that she deserves this fight (with Amanda Nunes). ‘Amanda Nunes this, Amanda Nunes that, Amanda’s ducking her, Amanda doesn’t want her because the style doesn’t match up well for Amanda’, So I’m thinking about doing Pena and (vs.) Nunes.“
The victor of a stunning twelve consecutively, dominant champion, Nunes most recently turned in a one-sided defence of her featherweight championship in the co-main event of UFC 259 earlier this month, submitting former Invicta FC champion, Megan Anderson with a timely first round triangle armbar.
Her most recent defence of the bantamweight crown came back in December of 2019 at UFC 245 — scoring a second career win over inaugural featherweight champion, Germaine de Randamie in a unanimous decision triumph.
For Washington native, Pena, she’s lost to common-foe, de Randamie via a late guillotine prior to her win over McMann at the beginning of this year, however, she holds a victory over the last competitor to beat Nunes, current Bellator contender, Cat Zingano back at UFC 200, adding to other notable promotional wins over inaugural flyweight titleholder, Nicco Montano, and one-time 125-pound title chaser, Jessica Eye.