UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Julianna Peña says she is keen to fight Amanda Nunes again this summer, though she has ruled out the prospect of facing her in Brazil.
Peña stunned the world in December when she defeated Nunes for the title. The Brazilian had been unbeaten in 12 competitive bouts prior to the contest and is widely considered the greatest female MMA star of all time.
But the American was a deserving victor at UFC 269 –– submitting Nunes via a rear-naked choke in just the second round.
Ever since, a rematch between the two has been heavily anticipated, with both fighters confirming their interest in facing one another again.
And speaking at a press conference ahead of UFC 270 this weekend, Peña revealed her preference is to fight Nunes again, before considering any other opponents.
“I’ve never done this before, this is a new journey for me and I’m just trying to enjoy the process and do the best that I can,” she said.
“So I haven’t reached that point [in the] year where I’m gunning for the next person and I’m just focused on getting that rematch going and setting that date.”
In terms of when this fight could materialise, Peña had a few dates in mind but leant towards a summer contest around the time of her birthday in August.
“I don’t know, maybe June, July, August,” she stated when asked for a specific date. “I’m an August –– a Leo Lion baby, so if I could fight in my birthday month. I don’t have a particular date but as long as I stay active and get a date set, that’s kind of where my head’s at.”
One potential stumbling block could be Nunes’ preparation and if she has the time to fight this year. The Brazilian has reportedly parted ways with her long-time gym, American Top Team, in order to start a gym of her own in Florida.
The 33-year-old has already said a fight between her and Peña would have to wait until after she’d got her ‘s**t together’ and it seems her new gym could be what she was referring to.
Peña, however, emphasised that she is not concerned with where the Brazilian is training and just wanted to get a fight sorted.
“Best of luck. I just hope everything goes according to her plans and we can get this fight booked. That’s all I care about.”
Is Peña willing to wait for Nunes though, especially if the fight takes a while to come to fruition?
“No, I mean Amanda probably wants to get in there as soon as possible and get her belt back. I don’t anticipate her waiting a super long time. Summer’s looking good for me and I don’t know what she’s doing but summertime is good for me.”
Whatever happens, the American is also adamant she will not fight in her opponent’s home country. When questioned on whether she’d consider a rematch in Brazil, Peña’s response was blunt.
A potential rematch is bound to be considered one of the biggest women’s fights in UFC history and at this point, it’s difficult to pick a favourite.
Many may consider the current champion the more likely of the two, but Peña says she’s not fussed about what the bookies are saying.
“Somebody told me that I was still going to be the underdog. Everyone likes to talk about betting lines and all stuff leading up to a fight. I do my best to put my blinders on and not pay too much attention to the odds and the oddsmakers and being an underdog or a favourite.
“I just focus on what I do and what I know I can do, I let the people who like [to] bet take care of that stuff. That stuff’s not for me, I’m not into the betting stuff.”
For now, a fight date still seems a while off. In the meantime, MMA fans can look ahead to UFC 270 in California this Saturday as Francis Ngannou takes on Ciryl Gane.