If you didn’t win, what would happen?
Julianna Peña is an MMA fighter who made her debut in the UFC on December 19th of 2015. She was expected to be a contender at 135lbs and had won one fight before facing Amanda Nunes for her second bout. After winning that fight via knockout in round 1 (3:01), many pundits have said she has no chance against Nunes’s power. But Julianna never doubted herself- even after losing six straight bouts without getting hit once, she still believed it could work out this time around as well., eventually defeating Nunes by TKO due to punches in round 2.
Peña talks about how difficult it was for people outside the sport to see past all those losses into the potential within and how there were so many times where friends or family members told her “It’ll never work.” It took them until now – when they’ve seen her defeat Amanda Nunes twice- before they really believe it might have been possible all along.;
The world may doubt your ability but don’t let that stop you!

Amanda Nunes has been on a tear since her UFC debut, but Julianna Peña believed in herself and she was able to beat Amanda Nunes at UFC 215.

Julianna Pea had faith. It’s possible she was the only one.

Pea was a 612-to-1 betting underdog against Amanda Nunes in the UFC 269 co-main event on Saturday night, and who could disagree with that? She went up against the best female MMA fighter of all time, as well as a two-division champion.

Amanda Nunes took the stage at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to defend her bantamweight title. Nunes now solely has the featherweight championship.

In the build-up to this bantamweight championship battle, Pea did exactly what she said she would do. She said that she will attack Nunes immediately. She said that she would force Nunes to resign.

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Pea’s statements seemed like hollow bravado to many people, including this witness. The 32-year-old from Spokane, Washington, had lost her past two bouts and had been choked out by a kickboxer as recently as 2020. What danger could she possibly offer to Nunes, who is ranked No. 1 in the ESPN women’s pound-for-pound rankings and has won 12 consecutive bouts dating back to 2015? I wasn’t the only one who saw this championship fight as a mismatch.

And it seemed to be one at first. Pea did come forward, as she claimed she would, but Nunes consistently out-punched her in the opening round. Midway through the round, Nunes dragged Pea to the canvas and controlled her there. For the GOAT, it seemed to be just another day at the workplace.

It wasn’t then. Pea came forward again in the second round, but this time her jabs were connecting. The occasional right hand was the same way. Nunes was firing back, but not with the accuracy she was used to. The champion was piling on the power, but she kept missing, and it was wearing her down.


All bouts from UFC 269: Oliveira vs. Poirier are available to watch on ESPN+ if the pay-per-view is bought.

• Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier • Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena • Geoff Neal vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio • Kai Kara-France vs. Cody Garbrandt • Raulian Paiva vs. Sean O’Malley • Josh Emmett vs. Dan Ige

On ESPN+, you can watch the whole game.

This was the greatest MMA upset ever. I realize, the betting odds don’t exactly support that argument — Pea was the fourth-largest underdog to win a championship battle in history — but consider the sport’s history of tremendous upsets.

The biggest MMA upset, according to the data, was Holly Holm’s 2015 knockout of Ronda Rousey. Rousey was unbeaten and had destroyed her four most recent opponents in 66, 16, 14 and 34 seconds, respectively. Rousey was the most dominating force in the sport’s history. Holm, on the other hand, was a three-time world boxing champion. Her credentials at the moment considerably outshone what Pea brought to the battle on Saturday.

Matt Serra, who knocked out the great Georges St-Pierre in 2007, was a +850 underdog on the night. In terms of MMA achievements, Serra may not be head and shoulders above Pea, but the GSP he fought that night was a fresh new champion and relatively new to the sport.

Julianna Pea took over the battle in Round 2 after a shaky start against Amanda Nunes, and delivered on her pre-fight threat by forcing Nunes to tap out. Zuffa LLC/Chris Unger

Nunes, on the other hand, has been at the top of the sport for a long time. She hadn’t lost a fight since 2014, and she’d beaten some of the best women’s MMA fighters ever. Rousey. Holm. Cris Cyborg is a fictional character. Valentina Shevchenko has won two times. Nobody on the planet would have disagreed with the 33-year-old Brazilian’s claim to be the GOAT.

T-Mobile Arena exploded with the type of commotion created by fans who have just seen history as Nunes feebly tapped out to the choke at 3:26 of Round 2. History is a strange thing.

Julianna Pea, on the other hand, does not believe in the implausible.

“Motherf—-ers, I’m not surprised!” When the microphone was placed in front of Pea within the cage, she shouted. She was echoing what Nate Diaz said after choking out Conor McGregor in 2016, much to the delight of the spectators. Pea’s recital was also met with applause from the audience.

Few, if any, in the audience thought Pea had the ability to defeat Nunes. But Pea’s faith in herself propelled her to a moment that will go down in UFC history.

“I warned you,” Pea said. “Never, ever, ever, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER Willpower, strength, and drive will get you where you want to go.”

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