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With Holly Holm headed to surgery, Peña claims Amanda Nunes ‘doesn’t want to fight a wrestler’ like her

Julianna Peña was scheduled to take on the former bantamweight champion in a UFC Fight Night bout this coming May, but with Holm out of the fight, it seems Peña is setting her eyes on a title shot instead.

When Holly Holm withdrew from her upcoming bantamweight bout against Julianna Peña it turns out that the reason was potentially a bit more complicated than a fighter’s typical training-related injury. The former bantamweight champ and multiple time title contender took to Instagram shortly after news of her withdrawal, to explain that she had been diagnosed with a kidney disorder known as hydronephrosis.

The condition, characterized by a swelling of the kidneys due to fluid build up, is caused by a blockage in the ureter—which connects the kidney to the bladder. It’s something that Holm says she was apparently born with, but unaware of until her recent diagnosis. Fortunately, it’s also something correctable with surgery.

“Last Wednesday I had super abdominal pains, and so I went to the urgent care,” Holm announced in a short video posted to her Instagram. “It’s been something kind of reoccurring, but hadn’t obviously driven me to the urgent care until last Wednesday. And, low and behold, I have hydronephrosis—which is where the kidney does not drain to the bladder correctly...

“The good thing is, it’s a very very very fast recovery. They say 4-6 weeks, so it can’t be too long. And the sooner I can get in, the sooner I can get out and the sooner I can be training. And hopefully we can get this fight just postponed a few weeks, not too too far in the future.”

However, if Holm is hoping the UFC keeps her bout with Peña booked for the near future, the promotion – as well as her opponent – seem to have other goals in mind. Dana White recently told reporters that a bout between Peña and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is something he may be considering. And the ‘Venezuela Vixen’ has taken to social media issuing her own call-outs to the champ.

But, after a less than enthusiastic response from Nunes to the whole idea, Peña is looking to spin the narrative—saying, in effect, that she thinks the ‘Lioness’ might be ducking her. That’s in large part, Peña claims, due to her wrestling and grappling heavy fighting style.

“She’s been turning down a fight for a long time now,” Peña explained in a recent interview, responding to Nunes’ suggestion that former featherweight champ Germain de Randamie fill in for Holm for a rematch with the Sikjitsu fighter (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I think that her asking me to fight [de Randamie] again is comical. To me it’s clear as day she doesn’t want to fight me. She doesn’t want to fight a wrestler and a grappler. She’s been fighting nothing but pure strikers ever since she won the belt against Miesha.

“The funny thing about her wanting me to fight Germaine, like, you didn’t ask Holly to fight one more, you didn’t ask Megan Anderson to fight one more, you didn’t ask Felicia Spencer to fight one more. All these girls are new to the division with .500 records but for me for some reason it’s always, ‘Oh, she’s got to fight one more. She’s got to be in the mix.’ I’ve been in the mix. I’ve been here. I’ve been fighting just as long as she has and I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that she would ask me to fight one more, again, especially since Holly pulled out.”

Having only just competed this last Saturday at UFC 259 Nunes seems like she could easily be in a place to wait until much later in the year to fight again if she so chose. And with Holm predicting that she can make a quick recovery and get back to training soon, Peña may very well find herself out of luck when it comes to competing for the belt. But, if Nunes wants to fight again soon, she may just find that Peña is the only new challenger out there ready and waiting for her.