Ultimate Fighter 18 champion Julianna Pena recently spoke up on behalf of UFC Octagon girl Arianny Celeste, calling Ronda Rousey “ignorant” and saying she went too far with her comments towards Celeste last month.
The situation Pena is referencing dates back to Rousey’s recent title defense against Cat Zingano at UFC 184, where during the build-up to the fight, Rousey spoke about UFC’s Octagon girls, claiming they get paid too much and that fighters should always make more than ring card girls.
One Octagon girl in particular, Arianny Celeste, took exception to those comments last month, calling Rousey a “big bully” who “continuously picks on her.”
“What did I say that was a bully?” Rousey fired back in February. “That the fighters should get paid more than the ring girls? How does that make me a bully? That makes me f*cking right. I’m sorry, but she wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for the fighters. She wouldn’t. You think her walking in circles around the two guys or two girls out there fighting for their lives is worth more? Think she works harder than they do?”
Pena, the winner of season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter, which Rousey coached alongside Miesha Tate, recently came to Celeste’s defense.
“I felt it was very out of line for Ronda to single out Arianny for multiple reasons,” Pena told MMAFighting.com. “First off, it’s none of Ronda’s business how much Arianny gets paid. Arianny has been with the company a hell of a lot longer than Ronda has and made the UFC plenty of money and gotten them exposure with things like Maxim, other magazines and TV shows.”
Pena continued, “If Ronda is so close with Dana [White], she should bring up fighter pay to him instead of looking ignorant. She should just let Arianny do her job and Ronda can do hers. Ring girls and fights go hand in hand and they are an essential part of the show.”
“I love Arianny and think she has a beautiful heart,” Pena said of Celeste. “I stand by her 110 percent.”
Pena, who beat Rousey’s team members to become the TUF 18 champion, also spoke about the disrespect that Rousey showed her during their stint on the UFC reality show.
“Ronda said I didn’t deserve to breathe the same air as Shayna Baszler,” said Pena. “That’s when you know someone is arrogant and ignorant. After the couple of run-ins we had on the show, I knew she was a mean girl and I’m not talking about in the cage. I hope I never come across as unsportsmanlike as she is, because that is not a champion.”
Julianna Pena makes her Octagon return against Milana Dudieva at UFC Fight Night 63 in Fairfax, Virginia.