It will be tough for anyone to ever match the impact left behind by Ronda Rousey, but reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight titleholder, Julianna Pena, can at least say she did something “Rowdy” couldn’t.
Rousey retired from mixed martial arts (MMA) in 2017 following a 48-second knockout loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 207. From there, the first female UFC champion went on to give professional wrestling a chance, signing with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Since then, Nunes has established herself as the consensus greatest female fighter of all time. This past December, however, Nunes suffered her first defeat in nearly a decade when submitting to a second round rear-naked choke submission at the hands of Pena (watch highlights).
“Ronda is so old news, right?” Pena told MMA Fighting on The MMA Hour. “I think that what’s incredible about her is that she opened up the door and was destroying people in 10 seconds, and became a star because she was demolishing people in the first round, and that’s great — but she got knocked out twice and never came back. So how legit is she?
“She had to go to pro wrestling and I get that and I think that that’s great,” she continued. “But, as a fighter and somebody who is competitive, I know that — deep down — it probably truly bothers her, the fact that she went away off of two knockout losses and never came back to make her name good. If it really truly does bother her and if it gets under her skin at the end of the day to know that, you know, her legacy is kind of ruined by the fact that she never came back and never got back on the horse, then I would like to invite her to please come back — and if she would like to come back, I would welcome her with open arms.”
Rousey’s first run in WWE spanned from 2018 to 2019 before she dropped her Raw women’s title to Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 35 in a triple threat match. She wouldn’t return to action until Jan. 2022 after becoming a mother.
“That’s what I’m saying, she’s kind of a joke in the MMA world now, because she’s a — what is the word? — sellout,” Pena said of Rousey. “Like, a little bit of a sellout there. I mean, I guess I understand, right? It’s like, pro wrestling is fake, you get paid millions of dollars, I get it. But for me, for real s—t, for like the ‘you’re the real, real deal,’ I would say that that’s in the UFC. And if she ever wants any of that real smoke, I’m ready.”
If Ronda Rousey came back to MMA to fight Julianna Pena, would she win?
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