At UFC 269 last December, Peña delivered on a promise she gave UFC President Dana White before she’d even first fought under the promotion’s banner. Against then-double champion Amanda Nunes, thought by many to be unstoppable after 12 straight wins and seven undefeated years, “The Venezuelan Vixen” secured her title crowning on the sport’s biggest stage.
In the aftermath, many, including former UFC star Chael Sonnen, suggested that Nunes “quit” after being handed adversity that she hadn’t faced in years. In the mind of Peña, she forced the Brazilian to do so after breaking and ‘exposing’ her.
Having been underestimated not just pre-UFC 269, but throughout her whole career, the champ knows what it takes to prove people wrong and enters the cage every time looking to leave everything in there.
And as she heads towards her first title defense and rematch opposite Nunes, it’s that mental strength that the bantamweight queen believes will take her to victory over the “Lioness” yet again.
Peña: Fighting Is More Mental Than Physical
During a recent interview with Kevin Iole for Yahoo! Sports, Peña discussed what it takes to find success inside the steel surroundings of a cage.
After sharing the often-said sentiment that the sport is perhaps more mental than physical, “The Venezuelan Vixen” insisted that she has the kind of mental fortitude that is needed to maintain a place on the top step of the sport.
With that, Peña claimed that she’s willing to die inside the Octagon if she has to — a belief she sees as a vital part of success in mixed martial arts.
“Your mentality, your positive self-talk, your mental state is so important in fighting. They say it’s more mental than it is physical, and I absolutely agree with that,” Peña said. “You have to know you’re the best, you have to know that you’re going to win, and you can’t be deterred by these negative demons that are trying to eat your brain every single night when the lights go out.
“(You’ve got to) have that mental fortitude to go through anything; fight through that adversity and know that I’m going to literally die in there if that’s what I have to do. I’m willing to do that,” Peña added. “If you’re willing to do that, then you will be successful.”
After losing one of her belts last December, many questioned Nunes’ motivation and hunger to compete at the highest level still. While she admitted, like Dana White and Peña had suggested, that she lost her fire prior to UFC 269, the Brazilian is entering Saturday’s Dallas-held PPV with ambitions of proving that her desire burns as strong as her rival’s.
Whose mental fortitude will prove to be the strongest on July 30, Julianna Peña or Amanda Nunes?