According to Amanda Nunes, Julianna Pena has had much less to say leading up to their rematch.
Ahead of their initial encounter at UFC 269 in Dec. 2021, Nunes made the argument that the only reason Pena received her title opportunity was due to her vocal skills after going 1-1 in her prior two outings. Ultimately, “The Venezuelan Vixen” backed up her talk and dethroned the reigning Bantamweight queenpin, Nunes via second-round rear-naked choke submission (watch highlights).
“Since Julianna was talking a lot, being the trash talker she is, I thought she would really bring that to TUF, but it didn’t go as I expected,” Nunes told MMA Fighting. “She was cool, completely different from who she really is. I don’t know if she was faking it because it would air on TV and she doesn’t want bad publicity. She’s too much, and everything’s full of Julianna already — imagine if she’s the way she [really] is on TUF. I think it wouldn’t be good for her, so I think she held back a little bit.”
Nunes has never typically been one to engage with her opponents in verbal sparring matches unless provoked. Before Pena, the most hostile back-and-forths she had were with Valentina Shevchenko, who gave Nunes all she could handle in their 2017 rematch. Nunes walked away victorious by split decision.
At UFC 277, Nunes’ second meeting with Pena will be the first time she’s rematched an opponent who bested her.
“I don’t know if she was used to seeing me all the time and that’s why she pumped the brakes on that stuff,” Nunes said. “I even told her, ‘Don’t you talk online? I’m in front of you now, open your mouth.’ But it was cool. [Normally] I don’t talk too much but I asked her, ‘What’s up?’ That’s what TUF is all about, it’s a reality [show] and people want drama.
“I even tried to poke her a little bit to see if I could get something out of her but didn’t get much. … I didn’t understand much of it,” she concluded. “I really expected something completely different than what she was on the show.”