Picking a baby name can be a real challenge. Do parents want to get creative and hand their kid a name that will set them apart in any classroom or office for the rest of their life? Or do they want to go with something traditional, a bible name, a family name, the name of a famous historical figure?
Not many people would choose to name their kid after someone that handed them a public beating. But, that’s what Julianna Pena was almost prepared to do, as she admitted in a recent interview on The MMA Hour (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“It’s funny enough, I didn’t watch the fight — I still haven’t — but I said if Valentina wins this fight,” Pena said, speaking of Shevchenko’s bout with Amanda Nunes at UFC 215. “I’ll name my baby Valentina. And at the end of the night, I checked. I just love that name. I don’t know why, I just love the name Valentina. I think it’s such a beautiful name. And she lost the fight, so I was like, ‘Nope, her name is not going to be Valentina.’”
Of course, that idea was amazingly close to becoming a reality. Not only did Shevchenko end up with a split decision against Nunes, but she almost certainly would have won the bout, had she not gone for (or completed) a poorly-planned takedown in the 5th round of her bout against Nunes.
And while the ‘Venezuela Vixen’ apparently ended up going with Isabella instead, her interest in the name Valentina didn’t start with her bout against Shevchenko, even if Shevchenko’s career ended up being what finished it.
“Before I even knew Valentina entered the division, like before I’d even thought about Valentina, I remember (MMA manager) Danny Rubenstein one time told me that he had known this girl that makes these beautiful Mexican dresses, and that she could like make a custom dress, and I asked him, ‘Well, what’s her name?’ And he said, ‘Valentina.’ And I was like, wow, that’s such a beautiful name,” Pena said.
“So whenever anyone would be like, ‘Well, if you’re going to have a kid, what would name it?,’ I would always say Valentina. So then when they were like, ‘You’re fighting Valentina,’ I’m kinda superstitious, I was like, ‘I don’t think this is a good thing. Like, this is the name that has been coming to me, reoccurring in dreams all the time,’ and stuff like that. So I thought it was really weird.
“So, losing to her was one thing, but then also the other thing, thinking okay, well, I’m pregnant — the girl, I don’t want to stray away from that name. But then I thought, well that’s just going to be kinda weird, because then everyone’s going to be like, ‘Oh, you lost to Valentina, so you named your baby after her?’ And then, of course, that salty voice in my mouth from the loss is probably going to make me madder, at that point. So I was like, she didn’t win the belt, her name’s not going to be Valentina, I’m over it.”
Pena sounds like she’s currently targeting a return in late 2018, so it could be a year before fans get to see her compete in the Octagon once again.