According to Nunes, Peña’s tough talk was a ploy to get under her skin, and she wasn’t having it.
“Honestly, it’s a strategy,” Nunes said on Thursday in Dallas, which hosts the pay-per-view event on Saturday at American Airlines Center. “She does whatever she wants. I feel like she knows what she’s doing, and I have to be in my mindset.”
That mindset was more fodder for Peña, who appeared to take great pleasure in riling the crowd at her opponent’s expense over the 45-minute event. The UFC bantamweight champ took several shots at the former champ-champ, seeming to have more success with the audience than with Nunes.
Peña smiled and gave an I-told-you-so when Nunes got defensive as she conceded walking in by “accident” on a practice during The Ultimate Fighter 30. The bantam champ had previously accused her two-time foe of spying on her.
If Peña was mostly quiet, or simply just “weird,” on the reality show set, there was no mistaking her promotional bluster on Thursday.
Nunes tried to brush off attempts to bait her, casting the rematch as a test to make necessary changes in her preparation and execute on fight night.
“Whatever she does is up to her, so I keep the focus on getting my belt back,” she said.
Asked for a prediction on the fight, Peña hammed it up some more.
“I am going to punch, kick, pull her hair – I’m going to bite her, I’m going to gouge her eyeballs out if I have to,” she said. “I’m literally going to do everything in there. Trust me when I say I am ready and willing to die. Whatever it takes, I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
“Let’s hope literally none of that happens,” UFC President Dana White interjected with a laugh.
“And I will be there ready to be even better than her,” Nunes countered. “She really is going to face a ‘Lioness’ she didn’t see last time, so I’m ready.”
Nunes remains a solid favorite despite her upset loss in the first meeting with Pena at UFC 269. Peña joked early that with a second win, the MMA world might actually put some respect on her name. In the meantime, she would be the true believer in her abilties.
“I’m the real Leo lion, and it’s Leo season guys, so strap up,” she said.
“There’s only one lion in the jungle, and that’s me,” Nunes said.
“That’s what you said last time,” Peña shot back.