At the final pay-per-view of 2021, not only did Peña steal the upset of the year honor, but she also staked her claim to one of the biggest upsets of all time.
After months of talk, ducking accusations, and a failed booking at UFC 265, “The Venezuelan Vixen” finally had the chance to put her money where her mouth was at UFC 269. In the co-main event, she did exactly what she said she would do. She dethroned Nunes, the then-double champ who hadn’t lost since 2014.
After escaping the opening round, well-known to be the Brazilian’s strongest, Peña hit the gas. Having hurt a tired Nunes on the feet, she dragged the “Lioness” to the ground and submitted her.
Peña Believes She’s The “Partner” Nunes Needs
With the unlikely crowning of Glover Teixeira at UFC 267, 2021 had already seen its fair share of memorable title-winning performances, but not many saw this one coming. However, Peña certainly did and perhaps that’s why she is so open to the idea of granting Nunes an immediate rematch: she believes she has the reigning featherweight champion’s number.
While she already brought a physical challenge strong enough to defeat Nunes, the newly crowned bantamweight queen believes she offers something else for the Brazilian’s presence at the top.
While Nunes’ recent defenses and appearances had a built-in interest due to her dominance and lengthy win streak, they lacked a willing dance partner, one who would not only challenge the consensus female GOAT in the Octagon, but who would accentuate the interest, intrigue, and draw of the matchups outside of it.
Discussing her inevitable rematch with Nunes this year during an interview with The Spokesman, Peña claimed she is the partner the 33-year-old Bahia native needs to become a main event attraction in the UFC.
“[Nunes] has had several things happen to her where they wouldn’t put her as (the) main event because she couldn’t sell it or because she would pull out. She needs a partner; she needs the other side of the fight,” she said. “I am that other side. I am that star power. I am the one that is saying, ‘Hello, I’m here, let’s do this.’”
While a date is yet to be set in stone for Peña vs. Nunes 2, all three parties necessary in organizing it have given the green light. After UFC President Dana White confirmed a chance at redemption would be offered to Nunes, the former 135-pound champ was quick to accept. Peña has also revealed that talks have begun for the two to potentially coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite one another.
While it may be unlikely the rematch will headline a pay-per-view given the host of exciting matchups already in store for 2022, it’s hard to deny the pair’s rivalry will have a headlining feel to it in the build-up.
Do you think Julianna Peña can repeat her UFC 269 performance when she runs it back with Amanda Nunes this year?