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Dana White rejects interim title with Nunes out: It’s ‘apples and oranges’ with Ngannou

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Unlike with Derrick Lewis and Cyril Gane, Dana White isn’t too keen on booking an interim title fight for Julianna Peña.

Dana White won’t book an interim title fight for women’s bantamweight contender Julianna Peña.
Dana White won’t book an interim title fight for women’s bantamweight contender Julianna Peña.
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Julianna Peña was supposed to co-headline UFC 265 on Saturday against Amanda Nunes. But a positive COVID test on the reigning double-champ scrapped the said booking, leaving “The Venezuelan Vixen” hanging in the balance.

The 31-year-old Peña was left frustrated by the recent turn of events, especially since she’d been in training camp since March. In a conversation with the media during Saturday’s fight night festivities, she vented it all out while calling for an interim title fight booking.

It’s a little bit frustrating. ‘You bleed me dry? Is this your game plan? What is the motive here?’ Especially because I heard from a teammate of hers that she hasn’t even been training. And even when she was healthy and is healthy, she has barely been in the gym.

That part has been frustrating for me because I have been making this fight my top priority. I have been living in the gym. My house is a launching pad. I literally just go there, change clothes, take a shower, and go to the next one. My kid has been taking all the sacrifices just like I have. She lives in her car seat. And I’ve been doing the mom thing as well.

If you’re not gonna fight in December, it will be two years since she defended the belt at 135 pounds. We got to keep the train moving. Let’s get a girl in there that’s ready to rock and we’ll fight for the interim belt. And when (Amanda) is ready to come back, she can come pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.

The night’s headliner was an interim title fight between heavyweights Derrick Lewis and Cyril Gane. It was a controversial booking because, unlike Nunes, incumbent champion Francis Ngannou just won the belt in March, was healthy and ready for his first title defense by September.

By the UFC’s logic of booking interim title fights, Peña should be getting her shot. But according to company president Dana White, that’s not happening.

“What happened tonight in the heavyweight division compared to what’s going on there in that division is apples and oranges,” White told the media during his UFC 265 post-fight scrum. “You can’t even compare them. (Peña) didn’t disagree with that either.”

Nunes last defended the women’s 135-pound title in December 2019 against Germaine de Randamie. She had since defended the 145-pound title twice and even contemplated retirement after her UFC 250 win over Felicia Spencer last June.