Julianna Peña calls out Ronda Rousey
UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Julianna Peña has called out former champion and current WWE Superstar Ronda Rousey.
Peña defeated Amanda Nunes to become champion back at UFC 269 in December, and her first title defense will be a rematch against Nunes this year. Back-to-back wins over Nunes would elevate Peña to a new level, but Peña recently spoke with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated and made it clear she has even grander ambitions – a fight against Rousey.
Peña won The Ultimate Fighter back in 2013, when it was Team Rousey vs. Team Tate, as a member of Team Tate. Peña was the first woman to win TUF, and she told Barrasso that she came out of the show ready to face Rousey. Peña said Rousey didn’t earn her title reign as UFC President Dana White just handed it to her.
“That has always been a fight that interests me,” Peña said. “When Dana White allowed women into the UFC, he just handed Ronda a belt. She didn’t have to compete, she didn’t have to do anything. He just said, ‘Hey, welcome to this promotion, here’s this shiny belt.’ After he gave her the belt, she had to fight Liz Carmouche. At that point, I’m on The Ultimate Fighter. I wasn’t fighting one person, I had to fight four people. When I came out as the winner, I was ready to face Ronda.”
Rousey has not fought since her loss to then-champion Nunes at UFC 207 in December 2016. Peña recalled a conversation she had with Rousey almost ten years ago.
“Ronda told me, ‘You’re going to give me a tougher fight than Miesha Tate could ever dream about–but when that day comes, I’m still going to kick your ass,’” Peña said. “And I said to her, ‘We’ll see.’ So, of course, I want to fight Ronda. That was a fight I was gunning for before I tore out my knee [in 2014]. When I came back, she lost and ran off and hasn’t come back. But I have a feeling that she wants to come back.”
Peña continued and admitted Rousey is a star, and is doing well in WWE, but said if Rousey ever wants to challenge herself and do “the real stuff” in the UFC, then she will be ready.
“It bothers her that she left on two knockout losses, and that she never came back to avenge those,” Peña said. “If she ever does get an itch to avenge those losses, I would love the opportunity to compete against her and fight her. I don’t think that that’s going to happen. Let’s face it, she’s a star. She’s killing it in the WWE, and she can make a ton more money doing what she does over there instead of doing the real s—. But if she wants to challenge herself and come back to the real stuff, I’ll be here.”
The 35 year old Rousey, who gave birth to her first child back in September, retired from MMA with 12 wins and 2 losses. The UFC Hall of Famer made her WWE in-ring return back in January at the Royal Rumble after being away since WrestleMania 35 in April 2019. She lost to SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 38 earlier this month, but the “I Quit” rematch will take place at WrestleMania Backlash on May 8.
Rousey has not responded to Peña as of this writing, but we will keep you updated.