Presently in the UFC women’s bantamweight division, Ronda Rousey is considered the queen who sits on top of the hill. Though it is a spot of prestige, one that has benefited Rousey throughout her tenure with modeling gigs, movie roles, and a book deal, it is also a spot wanted by others ready to knock her off. Prospects like Cat Zingano and Bethe Correia failed in their attempts while Holly Holm looks to be the one to dethrone Rousey at UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm. However, the one fighter who actually came close to defeating Rousey is Miesha Tate who pushed “Rowdy” to her limit past the first round. Needless to say, but “Cupcake” is surely upset she did not get her rematch against Rousey when she earned it.
Yet there is one challenger that is peculiar in her pursuit of Ronda Rousey, and she is Julianna Peña. Unlike the others challenging Rousey, Peña wants to be ready when she takes on the champ, as she is coming back from injury. Now Peña will continue her pursuit by taking on her first “Top 10” challenger in Jessica Eye, a fight she believes will be quite empowering.
Just so it is known, Julianna Peña’s career in UFC is uniquely strange. “The Venezuelan Vixen” was first on the scene as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 18 in which she defeated Jessica Rakoczy to become the season’s winner. Now officially on the UFC roster, Peña was supposed to take on Jessica Andrade at UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler but tragedy would befall her. During a training session, Peña suffered a knee injury that damaged her ACL, MCL, LCL, and meniscus. That alone sounds like a career-ending injury, but, fortunately for Peña, she just needed surgery and rehab, which took about a year.
Julianna Peña made her return to the UFC Octagon on April 4, 2015 when she faced off against Milana Dudieva at UFC Fight Night 63. Apparently, Peña’s return did not just show she hasn’t lost a step but that she was still as dangerous as ever. For poor Dudieva, she endured two minutes of torture as Peña played drums on her face. Eventually, Peña would score the TKO victory.
Though Julianna Peña has been spectacular in her two fights in UFC, none of her opponents were ranked in the “Top 10” for the women’s bantamweight division. This is why her upcoming fight against Jessica Eye is so important, as reported by Vice Fightland. Eye may actually be a true challenge for Peña since she has some accolades to her name. First and foremost, Eye is recognized as one of the better boxers in the bantamweight division. Next, Eye has fought numerous opponents ranked in the “Top 10” as her including Sarah Kaufman, Alexis Davis, and Miesha Tate. Finally, Eye trains out of the Independence in Ohio, the same training camp up-and-coming UFC heavyweight contender Stipe Miocic is from.
Despite Jessica Eye’s experience, she actually may be the underdog in this fight despite her rank being number six while Julianna Peña is number 12. Betting odds favor Peña for being a natural bantamweight (Eye is naturally a flyweight) and her forte in wrestling (Eye’s weakest department).
Maybe Jessica Eye knows Julianna Peña can attack her weaknesses thus wanting the fight with her in the first place. What better way to learn how to defend one’s weaknesses than fighting someone one is weak against right? Be that true or not, Peña accepted the fight, and Eye will have to face whatever comes her way.
“Whether she’s ready or not, she got what she asked for, and that’s getting into a fistfight with me. We’re going to go toe-to-toe on Saturday night, and that’s that.”
By how it sounds, Julianna Peña is heading into UFC 192: Cormier vs. Gustafsson as if her fight against Jessica Eye is worth the premier event itself. She truly believes it will be something special, something empowering for herself as well as other women who may want to pursue a career in UFC or MMA in general, as reported by MMA Junkie.
“In my opinion, it’s worth the pay-per-view money alone. It’s going to be very empowering for a lot of people, especially the woman out there. So I look forward to getting that job done and displaying 110 percent of my abilities.”
[Featured Image via UFC, Post Image via UFC 192: Cormier vs. Gustafsson Promotions]