Aside from flying first class, not much has changed for UFC women’s bantamweight champion Julianna Pena.
The champ did get to serve as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 30, mind you. The season just wrapped, with the live finale still to come — Pena and rival coach Amanda Nunes will fight atop UFC 277 this weekend, in advance of that.
TUF 30 might go down in history as having one of the most well-behaved Ultimate Fighter casts, but Pena had some ideas to spice things up in terms of pranks.
“I had some epic, epic pranks,” Pena revealed during Wednesday’s UFC 277 media day. “And at one point, Dana [White, UFC President] was in, all the crews were in, everybody was like, ‘we’re gonna do this,’ and then they put the kibosh to it. They literally put the kibosh to so many things, and it didn’t end up happening.”
So what did those pranks entail? “I will tell you that Johnny Knoxville was involved, and that they had a bear. And we were going to lock [Amanda Nunes] in a room, and when she walks in she’s going to see this gigantic bear, and [we’d] lock the door, and she can’t get out and start freaking out.”
According to Pena, “Johnny Knoxville was on board, Dana was on board, and then they were like, ‘we have the fights on Saturday night, this bear has to get acclimated to this room for four nights. It has to eat, sh*t, sleep in this room. We need the room for the fights.’ So they ended up saying that we couldn’t have the bear, so we changed it to a tiger and midgets.”
That was eventually quashed also. Oh, what could have been.
Instead of tigers and bears (what, no lion? Oh my), Pena will focus on stepping into the cage with Nunes this weekend, a rematch of the pair’s December fight. That night saw Pena pull off one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. Now, she’s ready to move on from the rivalry.
“I’m just ready to snuff out this torch. The torch was passed, I snuffed it out, I’m ready to close this chapter and I’m ready to move forward,” said Pena, adding that it was hard for her to look forward, and that she wanted to “live presently.”
Watch the full UFC 277 media day appearance by Julianna Pena above. The event takes place this Saturday, July 30, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.