The past few months have seen Peña rise from an unlikely contender to one of the most prominent names in MMA. While her title-winning performance against Amanda Nunes at UFC 269 certainly played a key part in that, the champ’s charisma and confidence with a microphone in her hand have played an enhancing role.
Before the final pay-per-view of 2021, Peña’s confidence and self-belief were branded as delusional by many, including then-two-division titleholder Nunes. But with a second-round submission, “The Venezuelan Vixen” silenced her critics and shot into the mainstream.
Peña’s Aspirations Always Went Beyond Fighting
While the result was surprising for many and was even branded the sport’s biggest shock by some, there was nothing untoward about it for Peña. For her whole life, she’s aspired to be great and to achieve her goals.
While combat sports success has always been a target, the Washington native’s UFC triumph is just one of many ambitions she’s harbored throughout her life. The others? A dabble into rap music and a successful stand-up comedy show.
During her appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, Peña revealed she’d recently been approached about an opportunity to perform a comedy set. While that might seem like a left-field offer to some, the bantamweight queen said that becoming a comedian was one of three potential career paths she’d identified during her early years.
“(Comedian Adam Hunter) just texted me the other day and asked me if I would be willing to do a five- or seven-minute set,” said Peña. “So when I was growing up, the three things I wanted to be: rapper, boxer, and comedian. Like, I remember growing up and being like, ‘I wanna be either of these three things.’ And so I love comedy. I’m a massive comedy fan… I told him I think I will.”
In comedy, one thing is needed: tough skin. With heckling rife in the occupation, comedians have to be able to handle potential abuse and be able to dish it back.
That is certainly one thing that wouldn’t phase Peña, although given how she tried to handle an abusive co-worker during her restaurant days, perhaps she’d attempt to deal with it too well…
“And I think about that. I don’t think I could handle that, right? Get some heckler in the crowd I’d be like, ‘Let’s step outside, guy. You got something to say to me?’”
It was perhaps apt that she also discussed the need to avoid stepping over lines and causing offense, something Rogan has come to know a lot about since Peña’s appearance on his podcast.
“And that’s the thing, too, like what’s offensive and what’s funny? Like, I think masks are hilarious. But you start talking about masks and people wearing masks, and then people are going to get offended because all these people have died and yadda, yadda, yadda,” said Peña.
Given her remarks on motherhood and COVID-19, it’s safe to say Peña doesn’t have a knack for avoiding controversy…
So, as well as an upcoming coaching stint on this year’s edition of The Ultimate Fighter and her first title defense against Nunes, perhaps we can expect a rap album and a comedy tour from “The Venezuelan Vixen” in the near future.
Would you go to a Julianna Peña stand-up comedy show?