Julianna Peña has charged through the women’s bantamweight division since she made her official debut in 2013 in The Ultimate Fighter finale, which she won in impressive fashion via TKO. Known for her vicious ground and pound, excellent grappling and aggressive pressure Peña continues to impress in The Octagon, with her last win coming against former title challenger Cat Zingano at UFC 200 via unanimous decision.
The first ever women’s TUF champion impressed in the early stages of her career, with Dana White stating after her TUF Elimination fight “That girl comes in to finish you and to inflict damage. I like that”, and she now has the chance to get the title shot that many people believe she deserved earlier in her career.
Are there any new skills that you’ve developed in training that we’ve not yet seen in the Octagon?
“I have many skills to show in The Octagon, but my coach has had me stick to game plans. If given the chance and if the UFC puts me on the right stage. I’ll show you a little something. A main event is a good stage.”
Amanda Nunes recently called out the winner of Holm and De Randamie for the featherweight Title. Considering that your fight with Valentina is for the no 1 contender spot for the bantamweight title, how would you feel if the UFC gave Nunes that 145lb title shot, instead of defending her belt?
“Nunes has been avoiding me since 2 years ago. She is a one-round fighter. I can go ten. This isn’t surprising she wants a boring sparring match with Harmless Holly [Holm] or a girl she already beat. Amanda is just like Ronda. She will hand pick the easy fights.
I don’t care anymore what these girls do and who they hand pick. I entered the in UFC 2013 and won the toughest female tournament. I still haven’t lost. I’m the only 135 female that hasn’t lost in UFC competition. I’ve been the most dominant female in UFC history. I’ve won more times in The Octagon than any other women. I’ve won more rounds. I’m the first ever ultimate fighter. My only focus is to remain the best female in UFC history. One loss puts me with the rest. I will do whatever it takes to keep my UFC record spotless.”
After your win against Cat Zingano at UFC 200, many people believed that you deserved the next title shot, but it was given to Ronda Rousey at UFC 207. What do you think about Ronda’s performance at 207 and do you believe that that was her last fight?
“I deserved the title after The Ultimate Fighter. I was 4-0 when this division got started. I’ve been ducked from the beginning. I’m not surprised at Ronda’s performance at all. A spoiled bully like her simply just needs to get hit in the face. Even Holly almost hurt her with pillow punches.”
How did the TUF experience help to develop and grow you as a fighter?
“The TUF experience was what made me a champ. TUF was harder than the so-called real UFC. I felt like the true UFC champion after TUF. And I’ve defended my title successfully every time. There is no way Harmless Holly, Tired Amanda or one trick pony Ronda could win a tournament. Too many different styles out there to expose their weaknesses.”
How does it feel to have your first main event in the UFC?
“The main event is great to be in. Everyone is starting to realise who can fight and who is in there sparring.”
Would you like to make a prediction for your fight at UFC on Fox 23 on Jan 28th Against Valentina Shevchenko?
“My prediction is I’m fighting another girl who spars. She is gonna get locked in a cage with a fighter. She is gonna need the ref to save her life Jan 28”
The passion of Julianna Peña shines through and it’s clear how much being the UFC champion means to her. She wears her heart on her sleeve describing herself as a “True Leo Lion”. Before her semi-final fight in The Ultimate Fighter Peña stated “I want to get this win more than life itself”, and she is now one win away from a chance to fight for the UFC championship. On January 28th Julianna Peña will have the opportunity to take one step closer to UFC gold.