Julianna Peña did the unthinkable when she defeated Women MMA’s phenom Amanda Nunes in December of last year. But former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov wasn’t impressed by Julianna’s win.
The ‘Eagle’ has been loudly opposing women’s MMA for quite some time now. Khabib feels Julianna’s win against Nunes is proof that Women’s MMA is lacking high caliber athletes and still needs significant growth.
“Female fighters, like, even we can watch like UFC call Amanda Nunes is like, greatest of all time. Like, we can watch what Julianna Pena did with Amanda Nunes [at UFC 269]. But Julianna Pena, she is not like the greatest or something like that. She just beat Amanda Nunes like [on the day]. We can watch not many good [female] fighters all around the world. There are only like five or six of them.”
This statement from Khabib broke Julianna’s heart because she considers Nurmagomedov one of MMA’s GOATs and values his opinion.
Julianna revealed she was left ‘heartbroken’ by Khabib’s statement in an episode of the ‘Joe Rogan Experience podcast’. She told Rogan:
“I saw in a presser that they asked [Khabib] a question and he was just completely downgrading the whole win and everything like that. it totally broke my heart… I was like, ‘Dude, you’re breaking my heart, man. Like, I freaking love you. Like, seriously.’ He must be friends with Kayla Harrison or something. I don’t know. Because he was like, ‘If this is the top of women’s division, it’s a joke.’ I mean, it wasn’t very nice. I didn’t appreciate it, Khabib.”
Although Peña now believes the reason behind Khabib’s remarks might be the cultural differences. Khabib is from Dagestan and was brought up in a conservative environment where women don’t compete or work outside of their homes and that may be the reason he is so indifferent towards her achievement and women’s MMA in general.
While speaking on UFC Unfiltered recently, Peña shared her thoughts on Khabib’s remarks. She said:
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion.”
“In his culture, women don’t fight, you know what I mean? So it’s kinda one of those things where it might be a cultural difference.”