Julianna Peña is bemused by Daniel Cormier and his recent comments over whether she deserves a third and final fight against Amanda Nunes.
Peña and Nunes are 1-1 after their two fights. The ‘Venezuelan Vixen’ dethroned the champion by second-round rear-naked choke at UFC 269, but she failed to hold onto the UFC bantamweight championship as the ‘Lioness’ assumed the throne again after earning a unanimous decision at UFC 277.
Nunes’ performance in the rematch was dominant, so many, including former two-division UFC champion Cormier, thought a trilogy was not warranted. Added to that, Peña has yet to return and prove why she should have another championship opportunity.
“The work hasn’t warranted an immediate rematch,” said Cormier on the DC & RC show this past October. “Because if not, then every champion that loses gets an immediate rematch. It’s not like that. It just doesn’t work that way. Amanda got an immediate rematch, because she’s Amanda Nunes. Jose Aldo didn’t get an immediate rematch [against Conor McGregor], and he was the longest-reigning featherweight champion of all-time.
“Sometimes you’ve got to move on to get back,” continued Cormier. “I think Julianna’s in that position. I don’t know if the work that she’s put on paper warrants [it]. Just because she survived in the last match, I think she might have lost every single round of that fight.”
Though she has responded to Cormier before, Peña decided to do so again when she served as a desk analyst for ESPN this past Saturday. Not only did she disagree with his recent comments, she also questioned why he even felt that way, considering he has found himself in a similar situation in his career.
“You’re saying that my work doesn’t warrant it? I’m the first-ever woman to win The Ultimate Fighter,” said Peña. “I’ve torn four out of five ligaments in my knee and came back from that — actually, both knees. I gave birth and had a baby and came back from that.
“I have been clawing and scratching my way up to the top and been in this division since 2013 when they first allowed women to join the UFC, and I did everything I said I was going to do leading up to that fight,” continued Peña. “DC, you’ve had 10 title fights, bro. Why are you hating on me for wanting to get a trilogy fight? 10! I think that’s the most title fights in UFC history. I mean, come on, dude. Don’t block me out, dude.”
As for what should happen next, Peña continued to challenge Nunes, who is not scheduled to defend either of her titles yet.
“Your pinnacle of getting to the top is winning the belt and fighting and clawing your way to get there,” said Peña. “I did that. I got to check that off, but it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to give this immediate rematch to prove that it wasn’t a fluke and I ran out of time. But I’ll tell you, I don’t have a fight scheduled. I know Amanda doesn’t have a fight scheduled, and I think a trilogy fight is what the fans want to see.”
Whether Peña gets her wish remains to be seen. Other potential contenders such as Irene Aldana and the winner of Ketlen Vieira vs. Raquel Pennington are lying in wait for Nunes, so only time will tell whether a trilogy with Peña is prioritized.