Julianna Pena says she should be considered the UFC’s first ‘mom champ’ after her victory over Amanda Nunes in a stunning bantamweight title upset in Las Vegas.
Pena submitted Nunes in the second round of their UFC 269 co-main event at the T-Mobile Arena, pulling off a shock that many claim to be the biggest in the history of MMA’s elite promotion.
— UFC (@ufc) December 12, 2021
The fight was a meeting between two mothers.
Pena gave birth to daughter Grace in 2018, and was joined in the Octagon by her daughter after her remarkable victory.
Beaten rival Nunes is mom to daughter Raegan Ann – who was born to partner and fellow UFC fighter Nina Nunes in September of last year.
When asked whether she would like the UFC to create a ‘Baddest Mom on the Planet’ belt, Pena backed the idea while proclaiming that she, rather than Nunes, was the worthy recipient.
“The UFC absolutely needs to create a new belt for me, and it needs to be the ‘Baddest Mom on the Planet’,” said Pena at her post-fight press conference.
“I’m not trying to take away anything from Amanda. She’s a wonderful mother, but I gave birth to my daughter, and I feel like for giving birth, I am the first mom champ.
“That to me is also a little feather in the cap.”
Some online appeared to take exception to the quote, with MMA pundit Luke Thomas calling it “an unforced error.”
Popular MMA journalist Ariel Helwani also raised the point in a tweet of his own – leading to a mixed reaction.
That’s an unforced error. https://t.co/lPwhb9SVoP
— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) December 12, 2021
FTR, I’m not trying to diminish anyone. Cmon. Just noting, given my immense respect for what women go through during and post-pregnancy, that this is a first and very much worth commending. That’s it. I know there are many ways to be a mom and they all deserve love + respect.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 12, 2021
They’re both moms, wtf does it matter
This is just insulting a GOAT
— Martin Lamoza (@MartinLamoza1) December 12, 2021
Pena's body actually went through pregnancy and labour, Nunes didn't.
— Concobar (@Concobar2) December 12, 2021
Nah nah, we’re not gonna do this. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with what he said. Stop it. No one ever said Amanda ain’t a mother. She’s every bit of a mother peña is, but giving birth is incredibly strenuous on the body and her being able to return and do this – amazing
— snus (@SNUSROCKETMMA) December 12, 2021
One thing beyond doubt is Pena’s new status as the UFC’s women’s bantamweight queen.
‘The Venezuelan Vixen’ weathered the pressure from Nunes in the first round before finding success with some heavy shots in the second.
That took the wind out of Nunes as she visibly fatigued before Pena secured a takedown and locked in a rear-naked chokehold at the 3:26 mark.
— Artie Schweitzer (@ArtieSchweitzer) December 12, 2021
— BroBible (@BroBible) December 12, 2021
The defeat was a first for Nunes inside the Octagon in seven years, after ‘the Lioness’ had previously rampaged through the bantamweight and featherweight ranks on the way to becoming a two-weight champion.
She has now relinquished one of those two titles to Pena, who was winner of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality TV show in 2013 but saw her rise in the UFC stall due to injury and her maternity break.
The Spokane-born star, who is based in Chicago, had earned back-to-back wins to set up her shot at Nunes, although few had given her much of a chance against the all-conquering Brazilian.
UFC boss Dana White suggested that Nunes would have the option of an immediate rematch with Pena – and the American herself was open to the idea.
“We can do it next, I’m free next month, two months from now – whenever they want to do it I’m ready,” Pena, 32, said jokingly.
She added that she would first need some time with her daughter but vowed that “if [Nunes] wants to do a rematch, we can do a rematch.”
Nunes, 33, did not appear for her post-fight press duties but had been respectful towards her opponent in the Octagon after her defeat, signaling that much of the animosity that had characterized the build-up to the fight had been laid to rest.