CHICAGO — UFC 277 is headlined by Spokane's very own Julianna Peña. It will be a rematch of UFC 269 between Peña and Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight title.
"This is the most important fight of my life," said Peña. "This is how you cement your legacy. This is how you start building that legacy. This is the type of stuff that gets you into the Hall of Fame."
The Venezuelan Vixen is at the top of Mount Everest in the UFC, but, the bantamweight title holder is still playing the role of underdog.
"You know, it's funny, they say that I hold the title and that I'm obviously the champion. However, when the odds come out I still will more than likely be the underdog," said Peña.
A role she's more than comfortable with, Peña pulled off what has been called one of the biggest upsets in UFC history submitting Nunes for the title at UFC 269. Now, she's ready to prove it was no stroke of luck.
"People are still counting me out. People are still doubting me. People are still saying that it was a fluke and that she had a bad night, this, that and the other. They've got every excuse in the book for why I won," said Peña. "So, my whole premise behind wanting to do the rematch was just to solidify that I am here to stay, that this is my time, this my era. The Amanda era is done. This is the Julianna Peña era now."
Just as any great title fight rematch, there has been some drama since the two were last in the Octagon.
Reports surfaced after UFC 269 that Amanda Nunes claimed to have been dealing with knee injuries leading up to the fight.
"I've had two knee surgeries, one on each knee. You know, I've never used me getting choked unconscious, you know, as a 'Oh, it was because of my knees,' you know what I mean? You gotta say whatever you can to motivate yourself, to pump yourself up and to sleep at night, so that you can say 'yes, it was my knees and next time I'm gonna get it done.' You gotta say whatever you gotta say and I understand that," said Peña.
Peña and Nunes have also competed against each other as the two coaches on ESPN's Ultimate Fighter. Plenty of time together for tension to rise, but, Peña is keeping the focus on her career.
"My intentions with her will come on July 30th. Supposedly, on July 30th we're going to be spending 25 minutes together in the octagon again. That will see itself out in the future. This is just business, you know, we're in the fight game, we're fighters. I don't need it to be this gigantic animosity," said Peña.
Staying at the top is all that's on her mind.
"It's my life's work. This is what I've been doing this for the last 13 years, it wasn't to be at the bottom of the list, it was to be at the top of the mountain," said Peña. "Things look different at the top of the mountain. My job is to make sure that anybody trying to climb up it gets kicked off."
Peña is offering her fans an opportunity to be a part of her journey to UFC 277 with an NFT sale beginning Monday. The NFT owners will get behind the scenes content leading up to the big fight on July 30th. One NFT owner will have a chance to join Peña cade side at UFC 277 in Dallas.