Miesha Tate may be in the minority, but the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion believes Julianna Pena has a good chance of defeating Amanda Nunes next month at UFC 269.
Tate, who will compete in her own main event this weekend at UFC Vegas 43 (details HERE), is one of the more respected female fighters in the sport. Not only has she already fought Nunes for the 135-pound title, but “Cupcake” also coached Pena on The Ultimate Fighter all the way back in 2013. She’s familiar with both fighters and understands what to look for when reviewing the matchup on paper.
According to Tate, Pena has a unique advantage over Nunes that some of her previous opponents don’t share. That would be the wrestling and top game of Pena. Tate believes “The Venezuelan Vixen” will be able to give the champion different looks and force her to fight out of her comfort zone.
“Yes, of course I like it,” said Tate when asked about Pena’s chances of defeating Nunes (via AG Fight). “Amanda is a tough fight for anyone. She’s the Mount Everest of the division, she’s the one that everybody’s like: ‘Can I do it (beat her)?’ But I think if anyone in the division can do that right now it’s Juli. She definitely has the best chance. I trained with her, she is very tough, she doesn’t give up. And she has the ability to put this fight in places where we haven’t really seen Amanda get tested in years. We’ve seen what she can do to people who try to stand up with her. We haven’t seen, lately, what she’s going to do when someone tests her on the ground.
“And Juli has the cardio to do that, she has the motivation to do that, she has the tenacity. She has everything she needs to put Amanda in uncomfortable positions. And there’s another thing, I think when you’ve been champion for a really long time and you’ve barely missed a second of a fight, what happens when you’re under someone you didn’t think you’d be, for a few minutes or a round? What happens in that frame of mind? Those are the intangibles that people are probably not taking into account and that I take for granted when I see someone like Juli fighting someone like Amanda.”
Pena, 32, is coming off a dominant submission win over the highly-respected Sara McMann this past January. She may be just 2-2 in her last four trips to the Octagon, but Pena sports a 6-2 overall record under the UFC banner since 2013 and has always had the potential to fight for a world title.
All of that said, Pena is going up against the greatest female fighter of all time. What Nunes has done to her competition over the past six years is nothing short of spectacular. She has defeated the likes of Cris Cyborg, Valentina Shevchenko, Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, and Tate. Pena will have to unleash the fight of her life to outsmart “Lioness” at UFC 269 and pull off one of the biggest title fight upsets in recent memory.