SPOKANE, Wash. — We are three and a half weeks away from the biggest UFC fight to involve a Spokane fighter ever.
Mt. Spokane alum Julianna Pena will fight Amanda Nunes for the Bantamweight title in Houston on August 7th. A Spokane fighter has never been up for a UFC title before.
"Give ‘em hell or die trying, that’s my plan," Pena said of her fight against Nunes.
Pena's the one who actively campaigned for the fight against Nunes in March before the bout was set, including calling out Nunes on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.
"A 135 pounds has not been defended for over a year. If you're not going to fight, then give it up. Let somebody else fight for it," Pena said forcefully on Helwani's show.
A month after that interview, and the fight was on.
Pena says Nunes actually agreed to fight her two other times in the past before going a different route, so it appears the third time’s the charm.
"There’s been so many times that she’s agreed to fight me, and then not ended up fighting me, that the only way to get the fight was to remind people that I’m 9-2 in the UFC, I have one more loss on my record than she does, I’ve been in the division just as long as she has, and I have fought just as many times," Pena said to KREM. "To me, it was the only fight that made sense, and the only way to get the fight was to speak up and let that be known. It may have sounded like I was trying to trash talk, but the little mouth of the south over here had to do what I had to do to get the fight."
Of course, as the reigning champ, Nunes enters the fight as the heavy favorite.
That doesn’t bother Julianna.
"I’ve been an underdog most of my career. Usually, for the most part, I’m always the underdog. I’m #TeamUnderdogs all the way," said Pena.
Pena certainly won’t lack support at UFC 265 as fellow Spokane fighter Michael Chiesa is also on the card.
"Any time that you can get the team captain to lead the way and for me to follow is just kind of the way that we’ve always been rolling. This is just another one of those times where he’s going to get in there and do his thing, and then I’m going to get in there and do my thing. We’re both going to be representing Spokane, and we’re both going to be very proud and honored to do that," said Pena.
But what would really put Pena over the moon?
Being the first fighter to bring a title back to Spokane.
"It would mean the world to me. I think it would probably be my biggest crowning achievement. It would just give me so much pride. I would love nothing more to bring that belt back to Spokane and put it above my head and be like, ‘Spokane on the map.’ This is what I’ve been working for. If anybody doesn’t know where or what Spokane is, they will know after that," said Pena.