Julianna Pena is ready to turn back the challenge of Amanda Nunes and cement her status as the premier 135-pound female fighter in the UFC.
Pena stunned Nunes by submitting the Lioness at UFC 269, and is all set to face off against the former two-division champion in the main event of UFC 277 on Saturday night in Dallas.
Pena is embracing her new-found champ status, and said that he’s keen to take on everything that comes with being a UFC champion, including the increased media attention.
“You know, the one thing that I have been gunning for my entire career is to be the champion of the world,” she told reporters at media day ahead of UFC 277.
“It seems like every time you hear me talking, I’m trying to get an opportunity to be the champion of the world. Now that I’m the champion of the world, there’s no complaints, there’s no complaining, there’s no nothing.
“This media, it’s not enough. I want more. I’m looking for the camera. Where are they? I’ll talk to whoever you want me to talk to. I’m the champion of the world. This is what I wanted. This is what I asked for. And I got it. And so now, there’s nothing left to do but the job itself, and that’s let people know who I am.
“This is my opportunity to show people who I am and kind of let them get to know me and I relish that moment.”
She said that, despite her increased status and exposure, her immediate family makes sure she stays grounded.
“Flying first class is something I could definitely get used to,” she grinned.
“Aside from that, you know, not really much has changed not too much anyways. Your kid doesn’t care if you’re the champion of the world, and that’s a real humbling experience, and I live that on a daily basis.”
Pena revealed that Nunes’ camp had been checking out her training sessions, and suggested that their approach – looking at her, rather than at improving Nunes – gives her the edge ahead of fight night.
“I was watching her sitting in her van, watching my practices. They got caught, they got caught big time,” she recalled.
“Once we saw them watching our practices, they threw the car in reverse, and they hightailed it out of there. I’m like, ‘Oh, I see what you guys are doing there.’
“I don’t need to do any of that, though. I don’t need to do any of that. But the most important thing was I can learn a lot just by listening to the fights and how they corner and then the way that they’re instructing their fighters on how to move and what combinations to throw and stuff like that. So that was very telling.”
But, regardless of how the two champions have prepared for the matchup, Pena said fans will be watching the very best in women’s MMA when she faces off against Nunes in their bantamweight title rematcin on Saturday night.
“At the end of the day, Amanda and I are the two best women’s fighters in the world – you’re literally getting the two best fighters in the world that are going to collide on Saturday night,” she said.
“I can’t tell you that I’m going to pull a rabbit out of the hat, I can just tell you that I’m going to stand there toe-to-toe with the best in the world, and I’m going to give my best and we’re gonna see whose ovaries are bigger. And I am willing to bet that that is me.”