Mayra Bueno Silva expects Julianna Peña to ‘stay injured for the rest of her career’

Mayra Bueno Silva faces Raquel Pennington for the vacant UFC bantamweight championship in the co-main event of UFC 297, but it took her some time to understand that.

“Sheetara” revealed on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast that when head American Top Team coach Marcos “Parrumpa” daMatta called with the breaking news, she initially thought her opponent would be ex-champion Julianna Peña. It took her a week to fix the mixup.

“At first I thought it was going to be Julianna, so we started watching all of Julianna’s fights after dinner,” Silva said. “A week later, I found out it was against Raquel. I didn’t even think about it, I thought it was Julianna because we were planning for that, right? I was super happy, already studying for Julianna, and then, ‘No, no, no, it’s Raquel.’ I was so excited [to fight for the UFC title], I didn’t even ask who the opponent was.”

Silva admits she was “shocked” when she discovered her real opponent but added “nothing that changes my main focus.”

“Like it or not, Julianna would be more exciting as a fight,” Silva said. “Not that Raquel is a bad athlete, but Julianna promotes fights better. Raquel is not that type of person, she doesn’t talk too much. She’s the type of athlete that likes to fight, and that’s it, so I was like, ‘Damn, I’ll have to try to promote this fight on my own.’ But my total focus is the best regardless.”

“It’s hard to promote this fight, because my opponent isn’t one that likes to talk too much,” Silva added on being the co-main event for UFC 297 under Sean Strickland vs. Dricus Du Plessis. “It didn’t disappoint me that there’s a fight after mine. This fight disappointed me because it’s a fight not many people want to see. To me, my fight is the main event.”

Having said all that, from a competitive standpoint, Silva sees Pennington as a bigger test than Peña. Silva enters the cage after wins over Yanan Wu, Stephanie Egger, Lina Lansberg and Holly Holm, though the most recent victory was overturned due to a drug-test failure.

Pennington, who once challenged for the belt against Amanda Nunes in Rio de Janeiro, has won five in a row in bouts against Marion Reneau, Pannie Kianzad, Macy Chiasson, Aspen Ladd and Ketlen Vieira.

“The fight just got a bit tougher, because Raquel is tougher than Julianna, but it doesn’t matter because the focus is the same,” Silva said. “Raquel is physically stronger. She’s been through ups and downs in the organization, she’s a veteran that brings more danger in the striking area than Julianna.”

Peña is expected to face the winner of Silva vs. Pennington for the title later in 2024. But Silva envisions a different scenario after “The Venezuela Vixen” withdrew from a trilogy bout with “The Lioness” Nunes in June and didn’t recovere in time to fight in January.

“Julianna will stay injured for the rest of her career,” Silva said with a laugh. “She doesn’t want to fight. She just wants to talk. All she does is noise. I have so much fun with her. Every time she posts something about me, it’s just funny to me. I hope this fight happens, because it will fans will have so much fun. I promise to beat the crap out of her and show who’s the boss.”