For most, Peña’s title win over Nunes in December last year was a triumph of women’s MMA, illustrating the skill, drama, and spectacle that female fighters regularly deliver. Nurmagomedov, however, saw things a little differently.
The arguable lightweight GOAT, who has regularly voiced his opposition to women competing in his Eagle FC promotion, wasn’t impressed by Peña’s crowning moment, given the inferiority, in his opinion, of women’s MMA.
Peña was understandably distraught by Khabib’s words, particularly since she considers the Dagestani one of MMA’s greats and someone to admire.
Peña Says Cultural Differences May Bias Khabib Against Women’s MMA
Since retiring from MMA in 2021, Nurmagomedov has carved out an impressive career as a coach to some of the UFC‘s best talent, including Islam Makhachev. And while cornering Makhachev against Bobby Green at the UFC APEX in February, the former lightweight champ had a close encounter with Peña, who detailed her experience to UFC Unfiltered and shared more thoughts on Khabib’s comments.
“I ran into him at the APEX,” said Peña. “I think one of his guys was fighting Bobby Green, and so I saw him outside the APEX, and, of course, he didn’t say anything to me and I didn’t say anything to him. I have nothing to say.
“There’s been a lot of people that have come to his defense to say the language barrier is what happened there, and that’s not really what he meant. It kinda got taken out of context. I don’t know, and it’s fine. I mean, Khabib’s Khabib, and I’m me. And if he likes it, doesn’t like it, no skin off of my nose. It really doesn’t matter to me. It was just one of those things where it was like when the greats talk and it’s not in your favor, it’s kinda just like, ouch!’”
Nurmagomedov is, of course, from a part of the world that harbors a much more conservative attitude toward women in sport. And Peña believes this cultural bias could be the reason why he was so dismissive of her accomplishment and women’s MMA in general.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion,” continued Peña. “In his culture, women don’t fight, you know what I mean? So it’s kinda one of those things where it might be a cultural difference.”
What do you think? Will Khabib Nurmagomedov ever change his opinion of women’s MMA?