Julianna Peña was relentless in her pursuit of landing a shot at the UFC bantamweight title before the fight was eventually booked. “The Venezuelan Vixen” has had her scope placed squarely on The Lioness for quite some time and has accused the champion of running away whenever she drew too close.
The biggest accusation came when Nunes pulled out of their scheduled UFC 265 bout after testing positive for COVID-19. Even though Dana White and the UFC assured Peña that the bout would be rescheduled, she still wanted answers.
Bantamweight Contender Turned Investigative Reporter
To find these answers, Julianna Peña’s tracked down Dana White at the UFC 265 pre-fight press conference to question him about Nunes’ whereabouts. When Nunes asked Peña about her sleuthing on social media, Peña then took this as an opportunity to grill Nunes about her fight withdrawal.
Peña told the champion that her sources revealed that she was barely training leading up to the fight. This led to Peña’s direct question of whether the pull-out was planned all along. Nunes never responded to Peña, but she didn’t need to. Because Peña believes she has enough evidence to close the case and make her final determination. And she is unbaffled by the investigation’s outcome.
“I’m not surprised. Didn’t I tell you that was gonna happen in the promo?” Peña asked host Ariel Helwani on Wednesday’s installment of The MMA Hour. “I literally said she was not gonna make the fight. I literally said ‘if it happens because I doubt that it will.’ So so far, my predictions have been dead on. You can call me Nostradamus.”
Peña expressed frustration in the fact that it’s politically incorrect to say anything about someone who tested positive for COVID, especially if it’s doubting the authenticity of the test results. Yet, undeterred by outside expectations of social graces, Peña would lay out why she indeed believes Nunes pulling out had nothing to do with The Rona.
“I’ll tell you this, when [UFC Executive Vice President] Hunter Campbell told me that he was looking at her positive COVID test, I said, ‘OK.’ Obviously, I said more than ‘OK.’ And then—I don’t want to get into particulars because I might put a fist through the wall—the next day, an article came out from her wife stating that they had been locked down for 11 days and that [their entire family] tested negative, and that they were all clear, and that they were all ready to go. And so then, I saw them like the next day in the gym and training and everything like that.
“And so they were posting this stuff. And I just had a feeling it wasn’t gonna happen in general. Because every time she’s posting, it’s like, chocolate cake and all sorts of goodies that you normally wouldn’t be eating in a fight camp. So I was just like, ‘She’s just probably on the couch eating chocolate cake and was like, ‘What?! The fight’s next week?! Aw, nah, nah, I got COVID.'”
Peña claims that she also had a conversation with the owner of the gym Amanda Nunes trains at, American Top Team’s Dan Lambert, where she questioned him about whether Nunes was training at all. Peña determined that Lambert’s body language and stumbling response only added to her suspicions.
Among Peña’s biggest frustrations from this ordeal is the fact that she has been in training camps nonstop dating back to even before her bout against Sara McMann at the start of the year as a result of opponents pulling out and fights being rescheduled. The first female Ultimate Fighter winner is not crying over spilled milk, however. She is now moving forward with positive thinking that the Lioness won’t slip out of her radar this time and that this Vixen will insert herself as the new queen of the bantamweight jungle come December 11.
What do you make of Julianna Peña’s accusation that Amanda Nunes’s pull-out was not actually COVID-related?