We are nearly a couple of weeks removed from UFC 269 where we witnessed one of the greatest upsets in MMA history. Julianna Pena (11-4) shocked the world when she defeated Amanda Nunes (21-5) to become the UFC bantamweight champion.
One person who was not surprised by the outcome was fellow UFC bantamweight and former champion Miesha Tate (19-8). Tate is a close friend of Pena’s and coached her on The Ultimate Fighter. For week’s Tate was telling anyone who would listen that Pena had a real shot to do the unthinkable.
That said, many chalked it up to bias. Now, Tate can sit around telling everyone that she told us so. Tate is in the middle of her comeback which she started this past year. The former UFC champion took some time away from the sport and resumed competing in 2021.
She’s gone 1-1 this year and she’s coming off of a loss to Ketlen Vieira. Tate believes that she’s only a win or two away from being a factor in the title picture at 135 pounds. However, Pena being the champion does make things a bit cloudy and she told that to MMA Junkie last week.
Will she challenge the UFC’s flyweight queen?
Tate told MMA Junkie that she would have to figure out what to do if she got to a title shot if Pena was still the champion. One thing she mentioned is the fact that both herself and Pena could drop an extra ten pounds to make 125. Valentina Shevchenko (22-3) reigns supreme over the UFC’s flyweight division.
Shevchenko has completely cleared out the flyweight division. It’s hard to even think of compelling matchups at this point because every top contender that’s in the division has already lost to Shevchenko in dominating fashion. That’s why there was talk of Shevchenko potentially moving up to 135 for a champion-champion fight with Nunes.
To me, the champion-champion is still there regardless of who wins between Pena and Nunes in their rematch. Shevchenko also has history with Pena as she submitted Pena a few years back. However, Tate’s potential move to the UFC’s flyweight division could make things interesting.
I was shocked when I heard Tate say that she could make 125. When she initially made her comeback, there was preliminary talk of her staying at 145 pounds but that was quickly scrapped. Now, the thought is there to drop all the way to flyweight.
I’ll tell you this, if she does make the drop, she’s right there for the title. Shevchenko needs new challengers and Tate could provide that. Tate’s size and grappling skills could also poise a unique challenge to the queen. This is definitely going to be a storyline to watch for this year.