Julianna Pena expects Amanda Nunes to have UFC comeback, but ‘she ain’t cutting no lines’

Julianna Peña is confident the UFC hasn’t seen the last of Amanda Nunes.

A former two-division UFC champion, Nunes was in attendance at UFC 297 to watch Raquel Pennington and Mayra Bueno Silva vie for the UFC women’s bantamweight title she vacated when she retired this past June. After watching Pennington defeat Silva to claim the belt Nunes held from 2016-21 and then again from 2022-23, “The Lioness” opened the door for a potential comeback on the UFC 297 post-fight show, stating that she still felt like a champion and would “see what happens” when asked about competing again.

If anyone was shocked by the news, it certainly wasn’t Peña.

“I wasn’t surprised Amanda was there. I know that she is going to come out of retirement,” Peña said on The MMA Hour. “And here’s the thing that really chaps my ass — when I was at her last fight, I was booing because she was going into retirement, and I was like, ‘Don’t go into retirement, we have literally the biggest fight in women’s history, trilogy, never been done before. What are you doing saying that you’re going to retire? What a joke.’ And so I was booing her for that and it warrants a boo, because she’s over there telling Megan Olivi that she’s coming back out of retirement. So I was right and it’s just Mystic Peña once again.

“All her fans [were] upset at me, ‘Why would you boo her? How dare you?’ But it’s like, how dare she? How dare she say that she’s retiring, and then one women’s fight later, now she’s saying she’s coming back? Get out of here. Look, it’s great for business. I’ve been trying to coax her into coming back this entire time, so it’s absolutely beautiful for everyone. And I knew that she wasn’t going to be able to stay away, so I was like, she’s just doing that retirement for attention. It’s just ridiculous.”

Peña, 34, and Nunes, 35, have quite the history together.

A former UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion, Nunes is generally regarded as the greatest female fighter in MMA history, however the lone blemish over her seven-year title reign was a stunning submission loss to Peña at UFC 269. Nunes ultimately avenged that loss and reclaimed her bantamweight belt with a decision win over Peña at UFC 277. The rivals were then scheduled to meet in a trilogy bout in June 2023 at UFC 289, however Peña withdrew due to injury and Nunes instead faced Irene Aldana as a replacement challenger, after which she retired as a reigning two-division UFC titleholder.

While Nunes was noncommittal about a potential comeback in her comments after UFC 297, Peña has very little doubt as to where this story is leading.

“I give it three days’ time,” Peña said. “You wait three days, I guarantee this girl is going to say, ‘Frank, play the breaking news. I’m coming back out of retirement. I’m a real fighter and this is my job.’ Obviously it’s not your job. Obviously you’re not a fighter, otherwise you wouldn’t have retired. She [retired] because she didn’t want the Peña power smoke, period.”

If Nunes does return, it may prove to be problematic for Peña, at least in the short term.

Peña is currently expected to serve as the first challenger for Pennington’s new belt, likely sometime in the summer. A Nunes comeback would potentially delay those plans, as “The Lioness” would likely jump straight to the front of the line. Peña, however, isn’t worried.

“She ain’t cutting no line. Mark my words, she ain’t cutting no lines,” Peña said. “She’s got to get in line. But I guarantee you, after she saw that [at UFC 297], her eyes [went like] Scrooge McDuck when his eyes have the money signs on them. Like, she watched that and said, ‘Cha-ching! Cha-ching! Cha-ching!’ She was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m coming back.’”