Last weekend, Peña proved the likes of Chael Sonnen and Cris Cyborg right and blew the minds of the rest of the MMA community by dethroning the seemingly unstoppable Amanda Nunes. Ahead of the UFC 269 co-main event, the challenger’s confidence and self-belief were branded as “delusional” by the champ and many fans, some of whom were left with shocked faces inside the T-Mobile Arena.
After a strong opening round for Nunes, “The Venezuelan Vixen” flew out the gate in the second, taking the fight to the “Lioness” on the feet. After hurting the Brazilian, Peña dragged her to the mat and forced a quick tap, completing one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
Tate Could Pursue A Different Belt
Since the incredible result, talk has turned to Peña’s reign and future opponents. However, one of the biggest names in the division and a former titleholder doesn’t appear willing to face the newly-crowned champion if she works her way back to the belt.
Miesha Tate, a good friend and occasional training partner of “The Venezuelan Vixen,” is expecting Peña to retain the gold in her likely rematch with Nunes. With that could come a tricky scenario.
Despite maintaining aspirations of having a UFC strap wrapped around her waist again, “Cupcake” told MMA Junkie that she would rather avoid entering the Octagon with Peña. Tate even suggested she could pursue Valentina Shevchenko’s flyweight gold instead.
“A lot can change between now and then, so I have to win and do my job so I think what really I’ve got to do is win and focus on that. If Julie’s still the champion by the time that I get there, then I think that’s a conversation we have at that time. I’ve probably got to get two wins until I’m looking at a championship fight, at least, so I’ve got to focus on me and I’m going to continue to cheer on Julie and pray that we don’t ever have to fight each other.
“I know that Julianna can make 125 and I can make 125. There’s also those things too. It’s not out of the question for either of us to go hunting Valentina (Shevchenko) at some point. There’s lots of dynamics. I know she really wants that fight too so we’d have to see what happens if everything continues to play out in that direction. There’s always that possibility of us going to 125 for either of us too.”
As Tate mentioned, she’s likely a few wins away from arriving at the crossroads she’s fearing. After returning from retirement earlier this year with a victory over Marion Reneau, the former champ’s title charge was stalled last month in a main event loss to Ketlen Vieira. Now sat at #7 in the rankings, Tate will be after a couple of wins over top names before entering contention again.
But while stating her trepidation at moving down a division and her desire to remain at bantamweight, the 35-year-old admitted a transition to the 125-pound weight class is not out of the question while Peña is on the throne.
“It’s something I’ve definitely thought about, but I definitely don’t want people thinking that I’m running at 135,” Tate said. “I hate the idea of leaving a division on a loss. It really bugs me. Something really bothers me about that, leaving the division on a loss. It’s something I’ve thought about, but at the same time, I feel like I need more time to digest all of that. It’s not out of the question by any means, but it would be a long process to get down to 125. I’ve been pretty vocal that I’m not a fan of big weight cuts, so I would probably have to do some things to change my body to get down to that weight, but it’s not something that’s way out in left field.
“It’s definitely something I feel like it would be an option. I just have to decide to. I’m definitely leaning toward staying at 135 especially given the change-ups, but it’s definitely not something out of the question.”
While the situation is something to think about for the future, former champ Nunes will be looking to save the pair from the hassle of avoiding a matchup with each other by immediately reclaiming the title. The Brazilian has the option of a rematch and appears more than willing to run it back with the first woman to beat her since Cat Zingano in 2014.
If Nunes doesn’t recapture the bantamweight throne, though, and Tate records a few triumphs over names like Irena Aldana; Holly Holm; and Aspen Ladd, who’s made her desire to face Tate known; perhaps we’ll be seeing “Cupcake” making a tough cut down to flyweight before her career is done.
How do you think Miesha Tate would fare against flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko?