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UFC champ Julianna Peña apologizes for ‘misconstrued’ COVID comments; defends Joe Rogan

UFC bantamweight champion Julianna Peña feels that she now “can’t say how I really feel about anything.”

Julianna Peña talks to Joe Rogan during the UFC 269 ceremonial weigh-ins in December.
Julianna Peña talks to Joe Rogan during the UFC 269 ceremonial weigh-ins in December.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Newly-crowned UFC bantamweight champion Julianna Peña drew some flak over some conspiracies and comments she brought up about the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent appearance on the JRE MMA Show, “The Venezuelan Vixen” made this statement:

“I’m a massive conspiracy theorist on this whole thing, and I have been since the very beginning. I’m like, ‘This is just a money grab. They’re trying to kill us, and this is ridiculous,’” she told Rogan.

“I don’t even think it’s a conspiracy anymore with all the other stuff that’s happening, it’s just like, no, this is reality.”

Peña was given the chance to clarify these statements during Monday’s TUF 30 media day, which she claimed were all “misconstrued.”

“I took a little heat on that, as well. And what I mean to say is — once again, my words were a little bit misconstrued — I am tired, I am exhausted, we’re going on this pandemic two years… going on three years now. I just want things to go back to normal,” she told reporters.

Having gone through COVID herself, Peña says the pandemic is “absolutely real.” And if her statements rubbed some people the wrong way, she offered an apology.

“I didn’t mean to come across as insensitive, especially for the fact that I had COVID. Everybody that I know had COVID. I lost my aunt in Venezuela, I lost many people that were near and dear to me,” she explained.

“It absolutely is real. I’m just angry and frustrated and exhausted over the whole situation because I just am wanting things to go back to normal. And so, if I offended anybody by my comments on COVID, please, I would like to apologize. That was not, by any means, what I meant to say.”

Peña also sided with Rogan, who is also currently under fire not only because of the misinformation on his podcast but also because of the numerous times he used a racial slur through the years.

“They’re trying to cancel him because of what his feelings are on the whole matter. So they’re trying to dig up everything that they can. They’re trying to find any negative thing that they can to try to cancel him because of his original message,” Peña said.

“I can’t speak for Joe, I don’t know how his thoughts are. Me, still learning in the process, I think that he was trying to divert away from that when I was on the (topic) and I just kept coming right back to it and hammering it.”

Peña says because of this, she feels she can’t share her real thoughts with the public.

“Now, I feel like I can’t say how I really feel about anything because (everyone’s) just gonna find a way to make a headline. And so now I’m just… ‘Just keep it PG, Julianna.’”

Peña will coach the upcoming season of the Ultimate Fighter against Amanda Nunes, which premieres on May 30th. The two women are slated for a rematch afterward.