Julianna Pena is not holding back on speaking her mind since becoming the UFC’s bantamweight champion with a shock upset win over Amanda Nunes last year, and both ‘The Lioness’ and another former champ Ronda Rousey have come under fire in her recent interviews.
Pena has recently been pitted opposite Nunes as rival team coaches on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter and has admitted there was some tension between the two.
“I would say that she’s a little bit more high-maintenance than I had originally anticipated, that’s for sure,” Peña told The Schmo.
“I would definitely say that there’s a little bit of a sad bravado about her that I think she’s really wanting to come back and get her belt back. So we had some words, we had some choice words. You’re going to have to watch the show.”
Pena also took a swipe at Nunes by questioning the relevance of the fact the Brazilian ace still holds the featherweight title.
“Let’s talk about this for a second. So Holly (Holm) and Germaine (de Randamie) both said that they’re not going back to featherweight at 145 and they’re going to stay true bantamweights at 135. Megan Anderson retired. Felicia Spencer retired. Can you name anybody else in the division other than Amanda? She’s a champ in the ’45 division of who? She says that she’s still, you know, the champ of a division of one person. So that’s nice.”
Meanwhile, Pena had some harsh words about superstar MMA fighter turned WWE personality Ronda Rousey, branding her a ‘Sellout’.
“She’s kind of a joke in the MMA world now. What is the word? Sellout,” Peña told Ariel Helwani. “A little bit of a sellout there. I guess I understand, right?
“Like, pro-wrestling, it’s fake, you get paid millions of dollars. I get it. But for me, for the real shit, for, like, the ‘you’re the real deal,’ I would say that that’s in the UFC.”
Pena did acknowledge Rousey’s accomplishments, but feels that what happened later in her MMA career has eroded some of her credibility.
“Ronda is so… old news. I think that what’s incredible about her is that she opened up the door and was destroying people in ten seconds and became a star because she was demolishing people in the first round. And that’s great.
“But she got knocked out (twice) and never came back. So how legit is she? She had to go to pro wrestling, and I get that, and I think that that’s great.
“But as a fighter, and somebody who’s competitive, I know that deep down, it probably truly bothers her. The fact that she went away off of two knockout losses and never came back to make her name good.”
That being said, Pena makes it clear that if Rousey wants to come out of retirement to face her then she’s more than willing to do so.
“If it really, truly does bother her and if it gets under her skin at the end of the day to know that her legacy is kind of like… ruined by the fact that she never came back and never got back on the horse, then I would like to invite her to please come back. And if she would like to come back, I would welcome her with open arms.
“If she ever wants any of that real smoke, I’m ready.”