Saturday, June 22, 2024  |



UFC: Peña ready to prove critics wrong against Shevchenko

Photo credit: Dave Mandel/
Fighters Network

If you are not familiar with the name Julianna Peña, you might want to familiarize yourself with the UFC women’s bantamweight title contender.

Peña is the first female winner of the UFC reality competition show “The Ultimate Fighter,” is currently ranked No. 2 in the division and is the only fighter in the Top 5 who sports an undefeated record in the Octagon. “The Venezuelan Vixen” is coming off the best performance of her career, in which she virtually shocked everybody in the mixed martial arts world by coming back and dominating fellow women’s bantamweight contender Cat Zingano at UFC 200, after losing the first round, to win by unanimous decision.

Thanks to destroying Zingano, Peña is a step closer to her goal of becoming a UFC champion. The only person standing in her way of her well-deserved title shot is No. 1 ranked bantamweight contender Valentina Shevchenko, who she will face this Saturday in the main event of UFC on FOX: Shevchenko vs. Peña in Denver, Colorado.

Despite already having the ultimate confidence necessary to become a champion, Peña is not overlooking Shevchenko and is extremely focused on doing whatever it takes to add another victory to her record (4-0 in UFC, 8-2 in MMA overall).

“I’m just concerned on what I do and what I can do entering this fight – what Valentina doesn’t concern me as it’s about me fighting up to the level which I’m capable of,” Peña said in her exclusive interview with RingTV. “At the end of the day, we are going to be getting into a fist fight in a steel cage and anything can happen. Therefore, my mindset is killed or be killed and all I’m focused on is getting my hand raised at the end of the day and moving a step closer to my bigger goal.”

Even with her fight against Shevchenko being viewed as a de facto No. 1 contender match to face UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, many fans and observers in the MMA community are still not sold on Peña being the best woman in the world at 135-pounds. Staying true to form, the fiery and strong-willed Peña is only using this as fuel to silence her haters and critics once again, just as she did last July when she was also an underdog.

“They keep counting me out and everyone keeps sleeping on me,” a fired-up Peña said. “On The Ultimate Fighter, they wanted to beat me down and claim that I didn’t bring anything to the table there and then they said, now, in the quote-unquote, ‘real’ UFC Octagon, that I wouldn’t be able to hang. It’s just one of those things that I’ve been fighting, adversity from day one, and it’s just a part of the game and, as long those people are watching me and I’m winning fights, that’s all that matters.”

Anyone who has been around Peña knows how fierce and intense of a competitor she is in and outside of the Octagon. As confident as she is in the world of women’s MMA, Peña is cognizant to pay respect to the ladies who have paved the way for her to be the main event in the biggest fight of her budding career so far.

“It’s great to see that girls like Paige Vanzant, Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Ronda Rousey are getting main event spots and I thought it was only a matter of time before I followed in their footsteps,” Pena said. “This is been a long time coming and I’m very honored and privileged to be in this position of being a headliner for a major UFC card. I plan on fighting my heart out and showing the world all my skills and getting hand raised to end the night and close the show.”




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