If you don’t know the “Venezuelan Vixen” Julianna Pena yet, that’s about to change. This strong, outspoken, talented female fighter is a force to be reckoned with, and she’s poised to make a huge splash in the UFC’s women’s division.
I recently had a chance to speak with Pena. We covered a range of topics in this interview from her TUF 18 win, to her family’s opinion on fighting.
SciFighting: What was it like being on the first season of TUF that featured female fighters?
Pena: I think it is an incredible opportunity being interviewed and being selected…a blessing.
Scifighting: How do you think it went, do you think TUF will do another season with females?
Pena: Never say never , but I don’t see a mixed season anytime soon. I think they expected more dramatic things to happen with females on this season.
Scifighting: Speaking of drama, the tension between Rousey and Tate, what was that like?
Pena: Nothing is edited out, what you see is exactly how it was. It was at times very intense and uncomfortable, to the point I giggled.
Scifighting: On the show you often let your femininity come out; do you think that’s important?
Pena: Absolutely, we are females for goodness sake. Why not be proud of being women. There are two types of women fighters out there, those that put on mascara and those that don’t, I enjoy being putting on makeup. There is nothing in the books that says we cant get dressed up, put makeup on and look nice. I enjoy looking good and there is nothing wrong with that.
Scifighting: Have you heard your to pretty to fight? What do you think about comments like that?
Pena: I am very flattered when people say I am pretty. I am a skilled fighter that is what I do, I encourage other people to make their dreams happen and I don’t make comments like “your to pretty to be sitting behind that desk”.
Scifighting: I heard your family was not very supportive of your career choice, has that changed?
Pena: At first my family was not supportive, because they don’t get it. They value education and I completely understand that. Fighting is something I have to do, there is a shelf life on it and now I think they understand that and have been more supportive.
Scifighting: Rousey put you against Baszler, her top pick and she was devastated when you won, what was it like for you earning that win?
Pena: The feeling was Phenomenal. I was so happy and elated for myself. When Meisha brought me my milkshake I was excited and proud. I had to pat myself on the back; I worked hard and proved it to everyone and myself. It wasn’t my objective to see Rhonda cry, but better Rhonda then me. They were trying to take my dream and I wasn’t going to let them.
Scifighting: How do you feel about being a women’s role model and inspiring females?
Pena: I never thought of it that way. Makes me want to take a bit of Humble pie. I never got into this to inspire people, what I am doing is bigger then myself. I did not get into to fighting to be a role model, I am a real person and am happy if people are inspired by that.
Scifighting: Are females here to stay in the sport?
Pena: Women are the dominate species, we are way better then men (as she laughs). It is great being in the UFC, and now that we are here we a here to stay. We are here to represent and that is very empowering.
Scifighting: So what can we expect to see from Julianna Pena in the future?
Pena: I have one more fight in the house, and you can expect to see me fighting as a real UFC fighter, that’s the goal.
While Julianna Pena may not see herself as a role model or inspiration, from chatting with her I beg to differ. She has a great sense of humor, she’s very well spoken, and she has a good sense of who she is and where she is going.
Those are essential pieces to empowering females in the sport, and showing the community that yes, we are here to stay. The evolving world of MMA will have a place for women in it, because of fighters like Pena who have imprinted themselves on it and shown a sense of beautiful toughness that the sport will hopefully embrace.