Julianna Pena believes Kayla Harrison was involved in Amanda Nunes’ separation from ATT. She rips Kayla for her career of ‘beating tomatoes cans’


Julianna Pena can’t help but laugh when she remembers everything Kayla Harrison said about her over the past several months before ultimately re-signing with PFL in March.

“How easy is it to say, ‘I’ll beat Julianna with one arm tied behind my back,’ and then sign a seven-year contract to PFL right after, the next day,” the UFC bantamweight champion said on The MMA Hour. “It’s easy to talk s*** when you know nothing’s going to happen from it.

“That’s it. Kayla is just running her mouth, because she knows that nothing will ever happen. PFL has just given her all. We wish her the best. It’s my hope that it turns out well. Make your career off of beating tomato cans. That’s great.”

Harrison memorably told TMZ that could beat Pena with one arm following Pena’s upset win over Amanda Nunes in December at UFC 269. In an interview with MMA Fighting, Harrison advised Pena shortly thereafter “to be cautious about what she said and to whom she said it.”

The comments came during a time in which Harrison was exploring her options in free agency, although any doors to a potential superfight with Pena slammed shut for the foreseeable future once the undefeated Olympic champion re-upped with PFL.

Still, considering the tournament structure of PFL and the level of competition Harrison has faced during her back-to-back $1 million runs, Pena can’t fault Harrison for her decision.

“Here’s the thing, though — I understand it,” Pena said. “Make your other milli. What has she made, $2 million with them? You can make your own money, girl. Do what you love .”

Pena still has a lot to do as she prepares to defend her UFC bantamweight belt in a match against Nunes this summer.

Pena stunned the MMA world when she submitted Nunes with a second-round rear-naked choke at UFC 269, including Harrison, who was seated cageside for the festivities. After the outcome, Nunes decided to leave American Top Team, her seven-year old home gym. She wanted to open her private coaching facility. Pena was among many who were shocked by the decision and can’t help wondering if Harrison’s presence at ATT contributed to Nunes’ desire for a new place.

” Part of me hopes that she will go back but it was shocking to learn that her whole team had been fired after she lost a fight. That was pretty crazy,” Pena said.

“I can tell you, during [UFC 268] fight week, I saw one of her interviews during fight week, it was a few days before our fight and they were like, ‘Hey Amanda, how do you feel about the fact that Kayla Harrison is the team captain?’ And she was like, ‘What?’ It was news to her and you could tell how, like, visibly uncomfortable she was from the question, and she was like, ‘She’s not team captain. I’m team captain. This is my [job].’. Do you see what I’m talking about? The wheels started turning, and I was able to see them. It’s one of those situations where the space isn’t large enough to accommodate the two of you.

“But it’s also like you guys call one another friends, right?” Pena said. “Like, you guys are constantly saying that you are friends and training partners, but then [Harrison] was so upset that I beat Amanda because then that means that she’s not going to fight Amanda? It’s almost like you don’t need enemies when you have friends like this. This is so awkward. Awkward.”

Pena said on The MMA Hour that she is currently in negotiations with the UFC for her rematch with Nunes and that July 30 at UFC 277 appears to be the tentative frontrunner for a date, although nothing has been finalized. The bout will be preceded by Pena and Nunes serving as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 30, which already wrapped filming and is set to debut on ESPN+ in May.

As an alumnus of TUF herself, Pena said her experience coaching on the show was generally a positive one, although she also learned something new about her Brazilian rival.

“She is a bit more involved than I expected, so that’ll be my opinion,” Pena stated. It was great. I’ll tell you this, my whole pure main objective of wanting to be on The Ultimate Fighter and coaching on The Ultimate Fighter was to give back to the sport and to give back to the team, whatever the team would be. This has nothing to do with me as an individual. However, it does help to have a team to grow and support them in their UFC careers. My priority was not to press Amanda. More like “I only need to ensure that my team wins” .’

“Although it wasn’t a very personal matter on a personal basis, my primary objective was to see my team kill hers. And that’s all I cared about.”