clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Julianna Pena: UFC made flyweight division because ‘Valentina Shevchenko couldn’t beat Amanda Nunes’

UFC 215: Nunes v Shevchenko 2 Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Bantamweight champion, Julianna Pena, believes her division is the best the promotion has to offer.

This weekend (Sat., July 30, 2022) at UFC 277 in Dallas, Texas, Pena aims to make her first career title defense by once again defeating one of the all-time greats, UFC women’s Featherweight champion, Amanda Nunes (watch first fight). For “The Lioness,” Nunes intends on reclaiming her double champion status and then getting back to defending the title she currently possesses.

Pena just doesn’t understand who that would be against.

LIVE! Watch UFC 293 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

MASSIVE MIDDLEWEIGHT MATCH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its highly anticipated return to Sydney, Australia, for the first time in five years on Sat., Sept. 9, 2023, with a 185-pound world title fight inside Qudos Bank Arena. In the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight roost-ruler, Israel Adesanya, plans to silence No. 5-seeded contender, Sean Strickland. In UFC 293’s hard-hitting Heavyweight co-main event, No-6-ranked fan favorite, Tai Tuivasa, locks horns with towering Russian, Alexander Volkov (No. 8).

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

“For the most part, the [145-pound] division — which has two people in it, honestly I really can’t name more than two — it’s just girls in ‘35 that don’t want to cut weight so then they just move up to ‘45,” Pena told Yahoo Sports (h/t MMA Junkie). “Then they had to create a whole other division at 125 because Valentina [Shevchenko] couldn’t beat Amanda two times, so then they went and cut weight and created a division for her to move down to 125. The real fights, the best fights are at 135.”

Mentioning the female Flyweight champion, Shevchenko, Pena and “The Bullet” met inside the Octagon in Jan. 2017 before Pena went on maternity leave. Defeating Pena via second round armbar submission, Shevchenko earned her rematch with Nunes, losing a split decision and then dropping to the newly created 125-pound division where she’s won nine times since — eight of which were title bouts.

Pena has already expressed interest in getting back some of her losses, therefore creating the possibility for a Shevchenko rematch if she can get past Nunes a second time.

“Now that I’ve become the champion, I’ve opened up the door to a whole list of girls that are gunning for a shot at me,” Pena said. “That is what I wanted. That is what I called for, and I’m in this division to fight the best of the best, so I’ve got a lot of work to be done at 135 before I start being lazy and not wanting to make the weight class anymore.”

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 277 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 277: “Pena vs. Nunes 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania