Monday, November 28, 2022

Peña Responds To Backlash For Saying She’s The UFC’s 1st Mom Champ

Newly crowned women’s bantamweight champion Julianna Peña has responded to the backlash she received for comments made following her UFC 269 title win.

After pulling off one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, Julianna Peña served as an inspiration for many people. Peña entered her fight against Amanda Nunes as a +670 underdog, with Nunes cracking four figures as a -1000 favorite.

However, it wasn’t the upset aspect that Peña noted as being historic about her victory. That, as she told reporters after the fight, would be her becoming the first birthing mother to become a UFC champion.

“The UFC absolutely needs to create a new belt for me It needs to be ‘The Baddest Mom on the Planet,’ Peña said during the UFC 269 post-fight press conference. “And you know, I’m not trying to take away anything from Amanda. She’s a wonderful mother. But I gave birth to my daughter, and I know that I feel like, for giving birth, I am the first mom champ. And that, to me, is also a little feather in the cap.”

Julianna Peña Reacts To Backlash

Many considered Peña’s remarks to be distasteful, with her being accused of minimizing, if not disqualifying Amanda Nunes as a mother because she did not give birth to her daughter.

When MMA reporter Ariel Helwani congratulated Peña on becoming the first UFC champion who gave birth to a child, he also caught some flack. This caused him to post a follow-up tweet to clarify why he feels Peña’s achievement should be celebrated.

“FTR, I’m not trying to diminish anyone. Cmon. Just noting, given my immense respect for what women go through during and post-pregnancy, that this is a first and very much worth commending. That’s it. I know there are many ways to be a mom and they all deserve love + respect,” Helwani tweeted Saturday night.

Helwani would have Peña on as a guest of Monday’s installment of The MMA Hour to respond to the backlash herself. First, Helwani defended Peña from the criticism she’s received and doubled down on his belief that her achievement as the first birth mother to win UFC gold is something to be celebrated.

“Yes, it is, and my words were 1,000% misinterpreted,” Peña said. “I’m not trying to take away from Amanda as a mom-champ by any means. But what I meant to say is, you’re pregnant for 10 months, actually. And your body goes through massive changes. I went to my doctor’s appointment. I was almost 42 weeks pregnant at this point, and they’re like, ‘We gotta get this baby out now! STAT! Right now!’

“They rushed me to the ER. And I got my guts ripped open. I’m literally (lying) on the table and looking at my guts on the side. They gut me like a fish; they stuffed it all back in. If it wasn’t for Mercier Therapy, I wouldn’t have been able to get back into the Octagon. And I think that that process of healing, and taking my actual time to do that Mercier Therapy, and taking the time to heal my body and get to fighting and be able to perform at my peak is a lot. And it says a lot to be able to do that after giving birth.”

In the interview, Peña praised both Amanda and Nina Nunes for being great parents and reiterated that Amanda Nunes is a legitimate mom champ. That said, Peña believes she offers her own unique, inspirational story as a champion.

“And I’m not, by any means, trying to take away from Amanda at all. All I was simply saying is that when I gave birth, I had to put my body through the trenches to get back to this point that I’m at right now. And it’s something that should be celebrated. But I, by no means, want to take away from Amanda’s accomplishments at all. She is an incredible mom-champ. She was an incredible champion. She did so much for the sport. But I am the new champion right now, and that is the light that I want to stay in.”

Julianna Peña is expected to rematch Amanda Nunes sometime in 2022.

What are your thoughts on Julianna Peña’s comments?