Julianna Pena turned the world upside down for a moment in time.
The event would come in the co-headliner of UFC 269 in Las Vegas. Under the bright lights of T-Mobile Arena, one of the greatest upsets in MMA history would occur. Julianna Pena, the +600 underdog, would score a second-round finish over the reigning champ, Amanda Nunes.
How The Upset Unfolded
Nunes looked unstoppable in the first round, hurting Pena on the feet with array of strikes, and laid out some top control on the ground. It was thought to be in the champion’s favor all throughout the fight, but the tables would turn as Pena amped up her approach.
Pena would stay in Nunes’ face, not backing down in the boxing department. Nunes didn’t think much of this strategy, given she knocked out Cris Cyborg who did the same thing back in 2018. Nunes went guns blazing, but like all guns they ran out of ammo.
An Inexcusable Performance
Joe Rogan witnessed all of the action from cageside, commentating live at UFC 269.
“The thing is, one thing I did say leading up to the fight, as they were getting ready, you have to think of all the times where someone has underestimated someone. You can never underestimate an opponent. You can’t go into a fight not nervous. You can’t go into a fight completely sure you’re gonna win when that other person is hungry and scared, because weird things happen when people underestimate people. But f*ck, that was nuts.
“[Nunes] was swinging for the fences.” Rogan said on his podcast. “She was like trying to take her out quick. Then, when Juliana was still there, you could tell, like she was f*cking tired.”
‘The Lioness’ ran out of gas in round 2, trying to knock out Pena. She swung wildly with Pena taking over as the seconds ticked by. Pena would outbox and stun the champ before taking her down. Nunes would have her back seized and would quickly tap out to rear-naked choke set up by Pena.
“For you to be a world champion in two divisions and universally recognized as the greatest woman fighter of all time, which Amanda is… it’s inexcusable to be that tired in the second round. Inexcusable to just be standing in front of her, just swinging in front of her. No movement side to side, standing right in front of her like you’re watching like a regional fight.”
UFC Bantamweight ‘Chito’ Vera understands that everything is mental. Nunes may have brought the physical in full-force at UFC 269, but the mental game didn’t align quite right. This would be her downfall.
“When you know how mental is the game, you can have all the technique, all the power, the moment you doubt yourself and you take a step backwards. You’re f*cked.
“I take more care of what goes through my mind then how much conditional training I can do. Yeah, you can take, you can go way longer if your mind [is right].”
Nunes has been criticized for quitting in her fight against Pena. ‘The Venezuelan Vixen’ would wrap her arms around the neck of Nunes with no hooks (legs wrapped) into the waist of Nunes. After just a few quick seconds, the Brazilian would tap out, accepting defeat.
Rogan would find this crazy and believed Nunes wanted a way out of the fight.
“It was caused by Julianna. Julianna made her quit, but the way she quit was crazy. The choke wasn’t on at all, it was on the chin. That was an excuse [for Nunes]. She was exhausted. She quit.”