Julianna Peña has her next opponent picked out.
There’s a new dawn in the UFC women’s bantamweight division. Two-time champion Amanda Nunes has rode off into the sunset, calling it a career after defeating top contender Irene Aldana at UFC 290 in June.
Pena Says The UFC Told Her She’s Next For The Title
With Nunes gone, who will sit upon the empty throne? All indication points to former champ Julianna Pena getting a shot at the vacant title. After all, she was supposed to collide with Nunes in a trilogy bout before an injury forced her to withdraw.
‘The Venezuelan Vixen’ claims that’s the UFC plan.
“Yes, I’m fighting for the belt,” Peña said on The MMA Hour. “Yeah, absolutely [it happens before the end of the year].”
It Takes Two To Tango
As for who will take on Peña, there are a couple of options: Raquel Pennington and Mayra Bueno Silva, who just submitted Holly Holm last weekend.
Bueno Silva actually called out Peña for the vacant title fight and while Peña entertained the idea of fighting both Pennington and the Brazilian on the same night, she has a preference between the two contenders.
“She just did the right thing,” Peña reacted to Bueno Silva’s request to fight her. “She’s trying to make some waves so that she can get a title fight. But the reality of the situation is that me and Raquel have had some bad blood brewing for the last 10 years since we were on ‘The Ultimate Fighter together. That fight’s gotta come first, first and foremost.”
“I think [Pennington is a bigger fight than Bueno Silva]. It is because she is on a five-fight win streak and I think that she’s been crying about getting a title shot since the last time that she quit on the stool, so it’s about time for her to get another ass whooping, I would assume.”
Peña referenced Pennington’s first shot at a world title from 2018, where she was TKO’ed by Amanda Nunes in the final round.
While it’s all but confirmed, Peña is confident that a title fight with Pennington will come together by 2024.
“I think the UFC’s pretty booked out throughout, like they got all their cards all booked out for the rest of the year. So, I would say sometime maybe in November or December. I’m not 110% sure, but around that time I would think that’s when we’re gonna get back on.”
What About Amanda Nunes & Ronda Rousey?
Ahead of possibly becoming a UFC Champion again, Peña still hasn’t lost all hope for fights with divisional greats Amanda Nunes and even Ronda Rousey.
“No, I haven’t given up on [a rematch with Amanda Nunes],” Peña revealed. “I have thought about that, but it’s gonna be up to her. She said that she’s gonna be there front row watching real close, so I know that she’s gonna still be a part of the sport in some capacity. So I hope that like, I give her the inspiration and the motivation to wanna come back because I know what, what she knows and that she feels like she can’t believe that she left it like that. 1-1, like who does that?
“I hope Ronda comes back cause she’s another one that’s had an ass whooping coming for her for 10 years, same as Raquel. Let’s go.”