At UFC 269, the final pay-per-view of 2021, Peña closed out a memorable year for MMA’s premier promotion in style. In the co-main event, she had her long-awaited title shot against then-two-division titleholder Nunes. Prior to December, the “Lioness” boasted a 12-fight win streak and was unbeaten since 2014.
While most expected that impressive run of form to continue into 2022, “The Venezuelan Vixen” had other plans.
After evading Nunes’ intent to finish in the opening round, Peña put her own game plan into action, taking the fight to the Brazilian on the feet, before dragging her to the mat and submitting a visibly fatigued and disheartened Nunes.
Peña Acknowledges Title-Winning Performance Wasn’t Perfect
While the memory of her remarkable ascent to the bantamweight throne remains fresh and spoken about in most interviews, Peña is beginning to adjust her focus towards her next task: a second victory over Nunes.
Shortly after the shocking result, Dana White made it clear the reigning featherweight queen would be offered an immediate chance at redemption at 135 pounds, something she welcomed with open arms.
With her first defense and rematch with Nunes on the horizon, “The Venezuelan Vixen” knows she has to make adjustments to her game, and has acknowledged that she made some “very big mistakes” at UFC 269.
“I would say I’ve watched (UFC 269 fight) at least four times. As far as my assessment, there’s definitely some very big mistakes that I made, and I’m looking to correct those,” Peña told BT Sport’s Caroline Pearce. “I’m already starting my training camp, I’m trying to get back in shape right now. I’m gonna give myself one last hurrah to keep my hair down tonight, and then after that it’s straight business.
“I got dumped in the first round and that really pissed my coaches off,” added Peña. “So, I just need to make sure I don’t get dumped again in the next fight. Aside from that, I think, hey, it’s fighting, mistakes are going to happen.”
In a perfect world, Peña says her first defense will come after a stint coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Nunes. With Ariel Helwani reporting that the pair are the front-runners to do so this year, it seems she may get her wish.
How do you think the expected rematch between Julianna Peña and Amanda Nunes will play out?