In this weekend’s co-main event, Peña will be the sixth woman to attempt to put an end to Nunes’ dominant reign over the 135-pound weight class. If she succeeds, she’ll achieve what the likes of Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko, and Holly Holm failed to do, and hand the “Lioness” her first loss in over seven years.
As expected with a Nunes defense, especially when it comes after a first-round mauling against Megan Anderson earlier this year, not many are giving Peña even a slight chance of having her hand raised inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
Despite that, “The Venezuelan Vixen” has had an aura of confidence about her that not many have had ahead of challenging the Brazilian. She’s consistently stated that fans and pundits are wrongly sleeping on her ahead of the final pay-per-view of the year. Even Nunes admitted she hasn’t faced a trash-talker like Peña before.
Peña Claims She Had Shevchenko “Dead In The Water”
But many believe Peña’s willingness to engage in verbal warfare with Nunes is what landed her this opportunity, especially given her 2-2 record across her last four outings. The #3-ranked bantamweight contender has shut down that idea, and recently provided some context behind her last two defeats.
During an appearance at UFC 269 media day on Wednesday, Peña reminded her doubters that her last two setbacks came against the promotion’s inaugural featherweight titleholder Germaine de Randamie and the reigning flyweight queen Shevchenko, who is widely regarded as one of the most dominant champions in the UFC right now. She also claimed she had both “dead in the water” before making mistakes that led to her downfall in each defeat.
“I mean, if you look back any of my previous fights, I’ve only dropped two fights in the last 10 years, and they were to champions. And I was winning. If you go back and you look back at those fights, I’m literally winning them. I have them dead in the water. I made some amateur mistakes that I have been able to clean up, and I’m ready to execute. And I think that the most important thing is to just go out there, and just do my job, and focus on what I can do, and make sure that I execute.”
While “dead in the water” is perhaps a strong term, there’s is certainly some legitimacy behind her claim. In an effort better than most who have fought Shevchenko in recent years, Peña secured the opening round when they met in 2017 before getting caught in a quick second-frame armbar.
Similarly, “The Venezuelan Vixen” appeared to be pulling away with her 2020 clash against de Randamie in the final round, before again falling into a submission. That time, it was a guillotine that marked the end of the contest.
If she’s to have any chance at victory this weekend, Peña will certainly have to be at the top of her game, avoid making the “amateur mistakes” she admits she did in her previous losses, and hope that Nunes isn’t the same brute she’s been in recent defenses.
Do you believe Julianna Peña has what it takes to dethrone Amanda Nunes at UFC 269?