The first female winner of The Ultimate Fighter, Julianna Pena, has been critical of women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey since the 2013 filming of the reality series. Pena was a member of Team Tate, headed by bantamweight contender Miesha Tate. Being a friend and training partner of the former Strikefroce champion thrust Pena in the middle of Tate’s rivalry with opposing coach Rousey.
She particularly took offense to Rousey’s comments about her as she prepared to face Team Rousey’s Shayna Baszler. “Shayna’s great, she’s ready,” said Rousey before the two faced off in the cage. “This other girl doesn’t deserve to breathe the same air as her, and she knows it.”
When Rousey criticized longtime ring card girl Arianny Celeste last month before her UFC 184 title defense against Cat Zingano, Pena came to the defense of Celeste, who characterized the bantamweight champion as a bully.
During a recent appearance of Submission Radio, Pena was questioned about Rousey and what would transpire if the two fought.
“Well first off, let me be the first to tell you that I’m the biggest Ronda Rousey fan that there is and I think that she’s an incredible athlete,” said Pena.
“Where I would hold the advantage is that I would not be mentally broken before the fight ever started, which I feel is sometimes to me, in my opinion, what seems to be the case with these other women that are facing her. They already look dead upon arrival when they’re in the cage with her and I refuse to be shaken,” said the No. 13-ranked women’s bantamweight.
Pena agreed with Celeste’s assessment of Rousey being a bully, but believes she can be a bully too.
“I’ve been bullied my whole life and I just feel like she’s been a bully. I feel like in that sense that I’m the bully and I’m a bigger bully than she can imagine, and I think that I would also have the advantage in the sense that I’m not afraid wherever the fight goes,” said Pena.
“I feel like I have great scrambles, great wrestling, great jiu-jitsu. I have great striking, great Muay Thai. Wherever the fight goes – and this goes for any opponent that I face in the future – wherever the fight goes with any opponent that I face, I’m comfortable and I am confident in my skill set, and I’m gonna give ’em hell or die trying no matter who I fight.”
Pena returns to action for the first time since winning The Ultimate Fighter when she faces Milana Dudieva at UFC Fight Night 63 on April 4. She’s been sidelined since March of 2014 after suffering a serious knee injury while preparing to face Jessica Andrade.