Peña (11-4) ended the year right with a shocking upset finish of the consensus GOAT of women’s mixed martial arts. Her second-round submission victory over Amanda Nunes (21-5) stopped a seven-year undefeated run by Nunes.
She also proved that years of calling Nunes out were justified by winning and finishing Nunes, a two-division champion.
However, Peña realized the rigors of being a champion were not only in the cage but outside of it when she made a controversial comment about the former champ during the post-fight news conference.
Peña made an insensitive comment about Nunes’ claim to authentic motherhood by saying she was the first “mom champ.” Her justification was that she gave birth to her daughter, unlike Nunes, who also is a parent.
The Mom Champ Controversy
The world took notice and began to feel some type of way about “The Venezuelan Vixen” and her perspective.
“I absolutely had my words misinterpreted,” Peña said to MMA Junkie. “Amanda is an amazing mom. She is an amazing mom champ. Amanda had a daughter that was there at the weigh-ins with my daughter, and her daughter embraced my daughter. They were hugging; they were loving on one another.
“When I saw that, I saw that this baby is raised in a home with two loving parents, and for her to display that love to my daughter just showed me how much they care about their daughter and how great of parents they are for their baby.”
— UFC (@ufc) December 12, 2021
Two Moms. One Champ.
Nunes is married to fellow UFC fighter Nina Nunes. Nina gave birth to their daughter, Raegan, in September 2020.
Peña attempted to explain that she wasn’t throwing shade but rather being more specific about the rigors of pregnancy and being a professional athlete that eventually becomes a champion.
“When I gave birth, I was almost 42 weeks pregnant,” Peña continued. “I had an emergency c-section where they were like, ‘We have to get this baby out now.’ I watched them gut me like a fish and take out all of my guts, laid it on the table, and threw it back in, and sewed me up.
“If it wasn’t for Mercier Therapy, honestly, I wouldn’t be able to get back inside the octagon. There’s so many things that happen to a woman’s body when they are pregnant. I was pregnant for 10 months. I had a crazy, very emotional c-section. I didn’t know if I was going to fight again. I had to have extra time to bring my body back together to get it back to its peak performance.”
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) December 12, 2021
Long Road To Victory
Peña faced Valentina Shevchenko at UFC on Fox 23 in January 2017, losing the fight via armbar submission in the second round.
However, in October 2017, Peña announced her pregnancy and break from competition. When she returned two-plus years later, in July 2019, she faced former UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship Nicco Montaño, winning the fight via unanimous decision as a replacement fighter.
Fast-forward three fights, including two stoppage victories, and Peña has realized her dream of being a champion.
Julianna Peña is the first woman to give birth to a child and then become UFC champ. Pretty darn cool.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 12, 2021
“All I was just saying is that for giving birth, is just if they’re gonna give Amanda a belt for being mom champ then I would also like a belt for being mom champ, is all I was trying to say,” Peña continued.
“I don’t want to take away from Amanda in any fashion as being a mother, because I know what a great mother she is, and I just really feel like my words were misinterpreted.”
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