At the final pay-per-view of 2021, Peña unseated Nunes from the 135-pound throne, which she’d occupied since a 2016 victory over Miesha Tate and maintained through the challenges of Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko, Raquel Pennington, Holly Holm, and Germaine de Randamie.
While most had expected the “Lioness” to add Peña’s name to her lengthy list of fallen challengers, “The Venezuelan Vixen” had other plans, and ones that led to a second-round submission triumph in Las Vegas last December.
The result, which is widely regarded as one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, led to much discussion about its cause. While some gave the new champ the credit she deserved for the performance, others suggested that her crowning was more down to Nunes’ shortcomings.
And while she initially appeared gracious in defeat, Nunes later attempted to support the latter claim, revealing that she’d entered her sixth bantamweight defense underprepared and carrying a knee injury.
But Peña, who knows a thing or two about knee issues having suffered damage to her ACL, MCL, LCL, and meniscus throughout her career, isn’t buying it.
During an interview with KREM, a publication based out of her hometown, Spokane native Peña noted that she never put any of her defeats down to her knee troubles. Nevertheless, she acknowledged Nunes’ need to motivate herself, which Peña believes the Brazilian is choosing to do by downplaying the legitimacy of their first result.
“I’ve had two knee surgeries, one on each knee. And I’ve never used me getting choked unconscious (on saying), like, ‘Oh, it was because of my knees,’ you know what I mean?” Peña said with a laugh. “So you gotta say whatever you can to motivate yourself, and to pump yourself up, and to sleep at night so that you can say, ‘Yes, it was my knees, and next time I’m gonna get it done.’
“So you gotta say whatever you gotta say, and I understand that,” added Peña.
Following the culmination of this year’s edition of The Ultimate Fighter, Peña and Nunes are set to run it back. When the pair collide in the UFC 277 headliner in Dallas, “The Venezuelan Vixen” will look to deliver another blow to her detractors, many of whom still regard her crowning as a fluke.
On the other side, Nunes will be looking to reclaim the title and her status as champ-champ. Despite her defeat last time out, the “Lioness” is currently the favorite just over a month out from the rematch.
We’ll find out whether Peña is being wrongly counted out again on July 30.
What do you make of Julianna Peña’s take on Amanda Nunes’ post-fight injury claims?