There is a new queen in the bantamweight division, and for the first time since 2016, her name isn’t Amanda Nunes.
Julianna Pena would pull off the ultimate upset against defending champ Amanda Nunes at UFC 269.
After losing the first round, Pena would rebound in round 2, bringing the fight to ‘The Lioness’. Nobody would think it wise to trade shot-for-shot with Nunes after Cris Cyborg got knocked out doing exactly that. But for Pena, the strategy would pay off.
Pena and Nunes went into an absolute slug-fest, launching massive hits at each other. However, ‘The Venezuelan Vixen’ would get the better of Nunes in the exchanges. The Brazilian held her ground but eventually lost it as Pena stunned her multiple times. Pena would able to take Nunes down and eventually make the champ quit, submitting her by rear-naked choke.
Pena shocked the world and even a bit of herself with the result. Equipped with her first UFC belt, she is still letting the feelings of it all sink in.
“Amanda’s been such a great champion,” Pena said at the post-fight press conference. “She’s done so much for the sport, so for me to take down arguably the greatest of all time is something that’s still sinking in right now.”
While the emotions still run high for the new UFC Bantamweight Champion, Pena isn’t opposed to a quick turnaround. She maps out what her future may look like, which involves proving that what happened in the co-main event was no fluke.
“We can do it next.” Pena replied, when asked about a potential rematch with Nunes. “I’m free next month, two months from now – whenever they want to do it, I’m ready,” Pena said. “If she wants to do a rematch, we can do a rematch.”
Amanda and I can rematch at 135lbs. Whatever the company decides.”
Biting The Bullet
This isn’t the only rubber match Pena is interested in, nor is bantamweight gold the only thing she wants in her career.
“Going down to 125 and facing Valentina [Shevchenko] down there would be great, too.”
Pena might be looking for double-champ status, should she beat Amanda Nunes a second time and be able to make 125lbs. Pena suffered her first UFC loss against Shevchenko in 2017. She would lose the fight via armbar with Shevchenko earning a title shot against Nunes, later that year.