Julianna Peña says UFC forcing Amanda Nunes to fight her

April 13, 2023

Former champion Julianna Peña insists that the UFC had to force Amanda Nunes into fighting her for a third time. The two are set for the UFC 289 main event trilogy bout, which takes place on June 10 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“She said I had to go fight Irene (Aldana) to fight for the belt against her,” Pena said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “But I don’t know how Irene comes up in this conversation at all. We’re 1-1. This is the biggest women’s MMA fight in history. It’s a Rocky story.”

This history behind the Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Peña trilogy

Nunes is the most decorated women’s champion in UFC history. She has defeated the likes of Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, and Meisha Tate en route to becoming a two-division champion. Nunes currently holds the belts in the bantamweight and featherweight division.

Peña shocked the world when she upset Nunes via a second-round rear-naked choke submission at UFC 269 in December of 2021. It catapulted the Ultimate Fighter Season 18 bantamweight tournament champion to an escalated level of stardom.

Having won 12 consecutive bouts prior to the upset, Nunes was granted an immediate rematch. She took the title back from Peña with a resounding unanimous decision victory at UFC 277 in July of 2022. Now, they are set to settle the score in a rubber match at UFC 289.

What Julianna Peña says forced Amanda Nunes into a third fight with her

Though the fight makes sense on paper, Peña says it took more than a little convincing to get Nunes to agree to their UFC 289 headlining rubber match. She says that the UFC “brass” told her that Nunes did not want to fight her, but that she wouldn’t back down.

“I think the UFC knows that. I think the UFC knows that they know how to do business, they know how to do big business and make big fights. It’s the only fight that I called for. And I said, ‘You know what, if you don’t want to fight me, Amanda, which the brass told me directly, she does not want to fight me.”

There have been a lot of UFC rematches of late, so despite the trilogy making sense, it also wouldn’t be a stretch to see officials go a different direction to try and build up more anticipation for the third fight. Peña, however, said she wouldn’t back down, indicating that she declined a fight with Aldana and forced the UFC and Nunes into the trilogy.

“I said, ‘I’m not fighting Irene, I’m fighting Amanda. When she decides that she’s gonna take that fight, you give me a call, because that’s the only fight that I’m taking.’ I said, ‘You know what, if you want, go ahead and put Irene in front of me, go ahead and make that Irene vs. Amanda (bout),'” Peña recounted. “‘And instead, you can skip the fight that makes the most sense for everybody and go ahead and do Irene and Amanda.’

“They said that if she didn’t fight against me that she would be stripped. And so, she had no choice but to fight me. She doesn’t want to fight me. They told me she doesn’t want to fight me. And she’s being forced to fight me because this is the only fight that makes sense.”

Regardless of how it came about, UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is now scheduled to defend against Julianna Peña at UFC 289 on June 10 in Vancouver.

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UFC 277: Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Peña fight highlights

(Courtesy of MMAWeekly.com)