It was a long time coming for Julianna Peña at UFC Fight Night 63. She returned from a severe injury and walked away with a first-round technical knockout and $50,000 in bonus cash.
The emotion ran high for the first female winner of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Peńa said of her newly earned bonus. “I’m going to start crying because that’s like the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It really is.”
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Peńa suffered a knee injury last year, which kept her out of competition following her win on the UFC’s reality series. She revealed in subsequent interviews that the situation was heartbreaking. UFC Fairfax represented her chance to show off her arsenal and prove that she belongs amongst the best women fighters on the planet.
Getting back in the cage was tough, she explained, and staying positive was and will remain key.
“I’m just happy to be here and I’m pumped to get back in the cage,” she said. “It’s been a long and grueling road this last year and a half, trying to get my knee back to where it was, and now that I’m here I just have to stay positive and have to believe in myself and I most certainly do.”
Regarding 2015 and her path going forward, Peña said she would accept a fight from someone knocking on her door and looking to get in the Octagon with her. If for some reason Bethe Correira dropped out of her upcoming fight with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, Peña boldly said she would eagerly step up as a replacement.
From injured list to potential title fight, Peña is game.
“I know how to fight. Yeah, I would [fight Rousey],” she said.
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