Julianna Nicole Peña[1] (born August 19, 1989) is an American professional mixed martial artist who competes in the bantamweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where she is the former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion. Peña is the first woman to win The Ultimate Fighter. As of August 1, 2022, she is #1 in the UFC women's bantamweight rankings, and as of September 5, 2023, she is ranked #4 in the UFC women's pound-for-pound rankings.[6]

Julianna Peña
Peña in 2021
BornJulianna Nicole Peña[1]
(1989-08-19) August 19, 1989 (age 34)
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
Other namesThe Venezuelan Vixen
Height5 ft 7 in (170 cm)
Weight135 lb (61 kg; 9.6 st)
DivisionBantamweight (2013–present)
Flyweight (2013)
Reach69 in (175 cm)[2]
Fighting out ofChicago, Illinois, U.S.
TeamSikJitsu (2008–present)[3]
Luiz Claudio Combat Team
Valle Flow Striking (2016–present)[4]
Gregory Boxing & Muay Thai
RankPurple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Luiz Claudio[5]
Years active2009–present
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout3
By submission5
By decision3
By knockout1
By submission2
By decision2
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Background edit

The youngest of four siblings, Julianna was born and raised in Spokane, Washington.[5] Julianna graduated in 2007 from Mt. Spokane High School.[7] She then attended Spokane Community College.[8] In order to lose weight and channel aggression in her early adulthood, she enrolled in a cardio kickboxing class and subsequently transitioned to mixed martial arts.[5]

Mixed martial arts career edit

Early career edit

After going 2–0 as an amateur, Peña made her professional MMA debut in May 2009.[9] She won four consecutive fights but suffered her first defeat in April 2012 to future fellow The Ultimate Fighter 18 cast member Sarah Moras in a 140-pound catchweight bout.[10] The fight took place just two months and one week after Peña was involved in an accident with a drunk driver while walking in downtown Spokane in which she was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken nose.[11][9] Ten months later she returned to professional competition in a fight in the flyweight division, a move down from the bantamweight division, losing by unanimous decision.

The Ultimate Fighter edit

In August 2013, it was announced that Peña was one of the fighters selected to be on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate.[12]

Peña faced Gina Mazany in the elimination fight to get into the house. She controlled the fight from early on, winning a clear unanimous decision victory after two rounds.[13][14]

During the first tournament fight in the house, Peña faced veteran and top-ten ranked Shayna Baszler. Ronda Rousey selected this match-up between the two first female picks. The highly ranked and more experienced Baszler was widely considered the favorite. After a back and forth first round in which Peña landed effective boxing combinations and escaped several of Baszler's submission attempts, Peña came out hard in the second round, connecting with powerful knee strikes that staggered Baszler. The fight went to the ground, where Peña was able to achieve back mount and won via rear naked choke for perhaps the biggest upset victory of the season.[15]

In the semifinals, Peña faced off against Sarah Moras. The two fought previously in a professional bout in 2012, with Peña losing after suffering an injury due to an armbar which forced the doctor to stop the bout between the second and third rounds. Peña won the fight via guillotine choke in the second round to avenge the loss.[16]

Ultimate Fighting Championship edit

Peña faced Jessica Rakoczy in the finals on November 30, 2013, at The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale. She won the bout via TKO in the final seconds of the first round and became TUF 18 women’s bantamweight champion.[17]

Injury edit

Peña was expected to face Jessica Andrade at UFC 171 on March 15, 2014.[18] However, Peña pulled out of the bout after suffering an injury to her right knee. She suffered the injury while grappling in training, ultimately damaging, among other aspects, her ACL, MCL, LCL and meniscus. Despite the severity of the injury, doctors assured Peña that her right knee would return to full strength following surgery and rehabilitation.[19] The injury kept Peña out of action for the rest of 2014.[20]

UFC return edit

Peña returned to face Milana Dudieva on April 4, 2015, at UFC Fight Night 63. She won the fight via TKO in the first round. The win also earned Peña her first Performance of the Night bonus award.[21]

Peña next faced Jessica Eye on October 3, 2015, at UFC 192.[22] She won the fight by unanimous decision.[23]

Peña faced former title challenger Cat Zingano at UFC 200 on July 9, 2016.[24] She won the fight by unanimous decision.[25]

Peña faced Valentina Shevchenko at UFC on Fox 23 on January 28, 2017.[26] She lost the fight via armbar submission in the second round.[27]

On October 14, 2017, Peña announced that she was pregnant and would be taking an indefinite hiatus from the sport.[28] On July 13, 2019, at UFC Fight Night 155, nearly two and a half years from her last bout, she returned and faced former UFC Women's Flyweight Champion Nicco Montaño, replacing an injured Sara McMann.[29] She won the fight via unanimous decision.[30]

Peña was expected to face Aspen Ladd on March 28, 2020, at UFC on ESPN 8.[31] However, Peña pulled out of the fight in early March citing an injury.[32]

Peña faced Germaine de Randamie on October 4, 2020, at UFC on ESPN: Holm vs. Aldana.[33] She lost the fight via a guillotine choke in round three.[34]

Peña was expected to face Sara McMann on January 16, 2021, at UFC on ABC 1 before being pushed back a week later to UFC 257 on January 24, 2021.[35][36][37] Peña won the fight via submission in round three.[38]

Peña was scheduled to face Holly Holm on May 8, 2021, at UFC on ESPN 24.[39] However, Holm was forced to withdraw from the bout citing hydronephrosis.[40]

Bantamweight champion edit

Peña was expected to face Amanda Nunes for the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship on August 7, 2021, at UFC 265.[41] However Nunes tested positive for COVID-19 on July 29, 2021.[42][43] The bout was rescheduled to UFC 269 on December 11, 2021.[44] After a dominant round one from Nunes, Peña came back in the second to win the bout and championship by rear-naked choke submission in what is regarded as one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.[45][46][47][48]

On February 5, 2022, it was announced that Peña and Nunes would be the coaches for The Ultimate Fighter 30 on ESPN+, which would feature contestants from the heavyweight and women's flyweight divisions.[49]

A rematch against Amanda Nunes for the UFC Women's Bantamweight title took place on July 30, 2022, at UFC 277.[50] Peña lost the fight by unanimous decision.[51]

A trilogy bout with Amanda Nunes was scheduled to take place on June 10, 2023, at UFC 289.[52] However, on May 2, 2023, it was announced that Peña pulled out of the bout due to broken ribs she sustained during training camp. Irene Aldana, who was scheduled to headline UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Hill, was subsequently chosen to replace her.[53]

Film and television edit

Peña was featured in the award-winning mixed martial arts documentary Fight Life, the film is directed by James Z. Feng and was released in 2013.[54]

Peña is an announcer, along with Max Bretos, for Combate Americas' English language broadcast on DAZN.[55]

Personal life edit

Julianna is the younger sister of former KREM 2 reporter and morning/noon meteorologist Grace Peña.[56] Peña is of Mexican and Venezuelan descent.[57]

In January 2018, Peña gave birth to her first child, a daughter.[58]

Legal issues edit

On December 20, 2015, Peña was arrested in Spokane, Washington and charged with two counts of assault due to an altercation with bar staff following an earlier street fight in which Josh Gow, her training partner on the Sikjitsu fight team, had been injured. A judge later granted a stipulation order of continuance in her case such that if Peña had no other incidents for a year, the case would be dismissed.[59]

Championships and accomplishments edit

Mixed martial arts edit

Mixed martial arts record edit

Professional record breakdown
16 matches 11 wins 5 losses
By knockout 3 1
By submission 5 2
By decision 3 2
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 11–5 Amanda Nunes Decision (unanimous) UFC 277 July 30, 2022 5 5:00 Dallas, Texas, United States Lost the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship.
Win 11–4 Amanda Nunes Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC 269 December 11, 2021 2 3:26 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Won the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship. Performance of the Night.
Win 10–4 Sara McMann Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC 257 January 24, 2021 3 3:39 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Loss 9–4 Germaine de Randamie Technical submission (guillotine choke) UFC on ESPN: Holm vs. Aldana October 4, 2020 3 3:25 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Win 9–3 Nicco Montaño Decision (unanimous) UFC Fight Night: de Randamie vs. Ladd July 13, 2019 3 5:00 Sacramento, California, United States
Loss 8–3 Valentina Shevchenko Submission (armbar) UFC on Fox: Shevchenko vs. Peña January 28, 2017 2 4:29 Denver, Colorado, United States
Win 8–2 Cat Zingano Decision (unanimous) UFC 200 July 9, 2016 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 7–2 Jessica Eye Decision (unanimous) UFC 192 October 3, 2015 3 5:00 Houston, Texas, United States Eye was deducted one point in round 2 due to an illegal knee.
Win 6–2 Milana Dudieva TKO (punches and elbows) UFC Fight Night: Mendes vs. Lamas April 4, 2015 1 3:59 Fairfax, Virginia, United States Performance of the Night.
Win 5–2 Jessica Rakoczy TKO (punches) The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate Finale November 30, 2013 1 4:59 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Won The Ultimate Fighter 18 Bantamweight Tournament.
Loss 4–2 DeAnna Bennett Decision (unanimous) Showdown Fights 10 February 8, 2013 3 5:00 Orem, Utah, United States Flyweight bout.
Loss 4–1 Sarah Moras TKO (doctor stoppage) Conquest of the Cage 11 April 19, 2012 2 5:00 Airway Heights, Washington, United States
Win 4–0 Rachael Swatez Submission (guillotine choke) Conquest of the Cage 10 December 15, 2011 2 0:17 Airway Heights, Washington, United States
Win 3–0 Stephanie Webber Submission (armbar) CageSport 8 December 5, 2009 2 2:54 Tacoma, Washington, United States
Win 2–0 Robyn Dunne TKO (punches) IFC: Caged Combat August 15, 2009 1 N/A Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
Win 1–0 Raylene Harvey Submission (rear-naked choke) ExciteFight May 9, 2009 1 2:58 Spokane, Washington, United States
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 3–0 Sarah Moras Submission (guillotine choke) The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate November 13, 2013 (air date) 2 3:31 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States The Ultimate Fighter 18 semi-final.
Win 2–0 Shayna Baszler Submission (rear-naked choke) September 11, 2013 (air date) 2 3:07 The Ultimate Fighter 18 preliminary round.
Win 1–0 Gina Mazany Decision (unanimous) September 4, 2013 (air date) 2 5:00 The Ultimate Fighter 18 elimination round.


Pay-per-view bouts edit

No. Event Fight Date Venue City PPV Buys
1. UFC 277 Peña vs. Nunes 2 July 30, 2022 American Airlines Center Dallas, Texas, United States Not Disclosed[76]

See also edit

References edit

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  3. ^ Deanna Cioppa (July 8, 2016). "Ahead of UFC 200, Julianna Pena says, 'My job is to be a gladiator'". ESPN.
  4. ^ Mike Bohn (June 16, 2017). "UFC's Julianna Pena was 'very, very heartbroken' after loss to Valentina Shevchenko". MMAjunkie.com.
  5. ^ a b c Chris Engstrom; Luiz Claudio (August 3, 2020). "Julianna Peña # 8 The Jiu JItsu Legends Podcast" (Podcast).
  6. ^ "UFC Rankings, Division Rankings, P4P rankings, UFC Champions | UFC.com". www.ufc.com. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  7. ^ "J. Pena High School Alum".
  8. ^ https://www.linkedin.com/in/julianna-pe%C3%B1a-636b23a0?trk=prof-samename-picture[self-published source]
  9. ^ a b "TUF Fighter: Julianna Pena". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  10. ^ "Sarah Moras faces Julianna Peña at Conquest of the Cage 11 | Women's MMA Today". Wmmatoday.wordpress.com. 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
  11. ^ Howard, Cory (2014-02-03). "Suspected Drunk Driver Hits Tree; Tree Falls On Woman In Downtow - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather". Khq.com. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
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External links edit

Awards and achievements
Preceded by 5th UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion
December 11, 2021 – July 30, 2022
Succeeded by