As she prepares to face dominant two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes, bantamweight contender Julianna Peña has suggested there’s “no such thing as an underdog.”
The oddsmakers and most in the MMA community would certainly have something to say about that, with not many believing Peña has much of a chance at dethroning the “Lioness” this weekend at UFC 269.
Peña, who currently sits at #3 in the 135-pound rankings, has gone 2-2 in her last four appearances. But while defeats to current flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko and inaugural featherweight titleholder Germaine de Randamie have prevented a winning streak from developing, “The Venezuelan Vixen” certainly gave a good effort in both contests. Until making some mistakes, Peña believes she was well on her way to two victories, a theory that’s hard to argue against.
She’ll look to avoid committing similar errors inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night. If she does make them, a killer like Nunes, who is unbeaten since 2014 and has defended the bantamweight title five times, will likely pounce.
Peña: “No One Is Ever Giving Me A Fair Shake”
In a scenario that Nunes has admitted is a fresh experience for her, Peña has attacked her first title shot with aggression and trash talk. To go along with that, “The Venezuelan Vixen” has boasted an air of confidence that not many would associate with a rival of the Brazilian champion.
During a recent interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, Peña gave some insight into her attitude and positive mindset, citing faith and self-belief as the tools behind her immense confidence.
“I have an unwavering amount of faith in God and making sure that I’m doing everything that I need to do in order to get my hand raised. So I did all the work and then I have this unwavering faith and belief in myself. I almost feel like it’s a David vs. Goliath type situation, where all these chips are stacked against me, and I just know that at the end of the day, I have faith in God and I have faith in my abilities and I have faith in my skillset. I think that that strong mentality has carried me through in all of my fights.”
Her confidence, however, hasn’t been enough to convince too many people of her ability to dethrone Nunes. That’s in spite of her consistent claims that fans and pundits are “sleeping on her.”
Despite still sitting as a heavy underdog heading into the final pay-per-view of the year, Peña denied that status, saying underdogs don’t exist.
“If you just look at any of the media or anything that the commentators say, no one is ever giving me a fair shake. They’re always considering me an underdog and they’re always counting me out. I was counted out on The Ultimate Fighter, no one thought I was gonna win. I ended up winning a show that was one of the toughest competitions in sports.
“When Amanda fights me, she’s not gonna be thinking, ‘Oh, she’s just some underdog.’ I don’t think that’s gonna be playing through her mind. So it doesn’t matter, there’s no such thing as an underdog. We’re going to go get into a fistfight in a steel cage, and there’s not much more I can say to it other than keep it simple.”
If Peña manages to have her hand raised against the consensus female MMA GOAT, it would represent one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, and everyone loves an underdog (or an existing Peña-approved equivalent).
How do you think Julianna Peña will fare against reigning two-division champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 269?
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