This past weekend, Julianna Peña authored one of the biggest upsets in UFC history when she submitted Amanda Nunes at UFC 269 to become the new women’s bantamweight champion. As with any major upset, the conversation quickly turned to whether Nunes, who was a -1000 favorite heading into the fight, had taken the challenger lightly, and UFC commentator Joe Rogan seems to think that was part of it.
“The thing is, one thing I did say leading up to the fight, as they were getting ready, you have to think of all the times where someone has underestimated someone,” Rogan said on his podcast. “You can never underestimate an opponent. You can’t go into a fight not nervous. You can’t go into a fight completely sure you’re gonna win when that other person is hungry and scared, because weird things happen when people underestimate people. But f*ck, that was nuts.”
In her post-fight comments, Nunes refuted the idea that she looked past Peña, saying that she trained hard and simply “checked out” in the fight, but lingering questions still remain about the now former bantamweight champion. After a strong opening round that saw Nunes drop Peña multiple times, “The Lioness” got drawn into a sloppy brawl in the second round where she gassed out, ultimately leading to the submission. It was a shocking performance from Nunes, one that harkens back to some of Nunes’ earlier career losses, and one that is still stunning to Rogan, even several days removed from the event.
“She was swinging for the fences,” Rogan said. “She was trying to take her out quick and then when Julianna was still there, you could tell she was f*cking tired. For you to be a world champion in two divisions and universally recognized as the greatest woman fighter of all time, which Amanda is, it’s inexcusable to be that tired in the second round. And just standing in front of her, just swinging in front of her. No movement side to side, standing right in front of her like you’re watching a regional fight…
“It was caused by Julianna. Julianna made her quit, she didn’t just quit on her own. You’ve got to give Julianna all the credit. … You know, that is what Julianna said leading up to the fight. She said I’m going to bring her back to what it was like when she was younger and she would quit in fights. There were fights where she got exhausted and lost her way, and then she became the greatest of all time. It’s wild to see the difference.”
Though the loss is undoubtedly a setback for the greatest female fighter ever, Nunes is likely to get a chance to avenge the misstep in short order. Both Peña and UFC President Dana White have said that an immediate rematch makes sense, and Nunes herself has said she accepts the rematch once she has a chance to “get my sh*t together.”