Friday, December 9, 2022

Julianna Peña: Nunes Shouldn’t Claim GOAT Status Without Fighting Me

Julianna Peña’s desire to fight Amanda Nunes is not restricted to Nunes’s status as UFC women’s bantamweight champion.

Julianna Peña wasted no time in hitting the campaign trail after her fight with Holly Holm fell through. That bout was expected to likely determine the next opponent for Amanda Nunes at 135, but with Holm injured and the fight canceled, Peña has been looking upward and straight at the top of the division at Amanda Nunes. She has been making hard pitches to anyone and everyone who will listen, which includes UFC President Dana White, who has shown some early signs of caving to Peña’s persuasion.

Some may view Peña’s zeal to fight Nunes to be a desperate attempt at receiving a world title shot. But according to “The Venezuelan Vixen,” she would want to fight Nunes just as bad even if Nunes were not the bantamweight champion.

“Yeah, absolutely, because it would be the worst-case scenario for her to vacate the belt because then she would get away unscathed again,” Peña responded in an MMA on Sirius XM appearance when asked if she’d fight Nunes without a title being on the line. “That is the fight that I want regardless. I don’t want her to be able to go away in her career and retire and say that she was the best, and she was the GOAT, and she cleaned out the division without fighting me. Because she hasn’t cleaned out the division.”

A Fight Destined To Happen?

Amanda Nunes, Julianna Pena
Amanda Nunes, Julianna Pena

Amanda Nunes and Julianna Peña are both UFC mainstays and have helped grow women’s mixed martial arts in the UFC. Peña is the first-ever female winner of The Ultimate Fighter and has managed to remain relevant over the years, only suffering two losses in her six-plus years in the promotion. As for Nunes, her contributions to WMMA need no recital. When you put together what both women have accomplished, Peña believes that the fight is destined to happen for both women’s legacies to be complete.

“We have been parallel in our UFC careers since they allowed women into the UFC,” Peña argued. “We’ve been in the UFC just as long as each other, you know what I mean? And that’s the only fight that they haven’t been able to put together. And for her to be able to go away from the division and say that she’s the GOAT without fighting me is completely unfair.”

Amanda Nunes most recently defended her featherweight championship against Megan Anderson at UFC 259 while Peña defeated Sara McMann at UFC 257. Both women are currently available, but Nunes has not been very open to fighting Peña in a title fight until she gets another major win in the division. 

Do you think Amanda Nunes cannot claim to have successfully cleaned out the bantamweight division until she has fought Julianna Peña?