Where to begin…
I want to first say, I knew nothing of Julianna Pena and the way she fights except for what I saw during the elimination fights. I knew she had been armbarred by Sarah Moras. I knew she was a suck-up trying to play both sides.She will tell you that she told Ronda Rousey that she wanted to be picked by her before she knew Miesha Tate was going to be there. I hope at least that the people in the Queen’s Army are smart enough to put together that we had no contact with the coaches until after we saw both of them there when they called us in for Dana White’s epic speech that first day. She knew Miesha was a coach before she tried to convince Ronda she wanted to be picked. Another thing I like about Ronda: she’s too smart for that. She didn’t fall for it. But that’s Ronda. It spoke to me of both her and Juliana’s character from the get-go.
Training for a fight on TUF is a strange animal. You can’t really game-plan based on your opponent. It could be anyone at any time. So instead of training things in your game based on weaknesses your opponent might have, you just train your strengths. So that’s what I did. I worked a lot one on one with the coaches, and that’s kind of how it went. The rest of the team did a team practice. Whoever had a fight got to work with a coach one on one. And being the first one that got to work with the coaches in this way, I have to say, I loved working with them from the start.
The first day of practice would be a dream for many hardcore fans of WMMA: Ronda and I just rolling. I had mentioned earlier how I was worried about Ronda and I both having strong personalities. We could very well clash. And both of us being proud people, both of us probably knowing that many in the WMMA community were begging for us to fight, I had some concern about training together getting overly competitive. Maybe she would want to show me exactly who she was, which I would definitely try to not let her get away with. But, as it turns out, Ronda is as secure with herself as I am. Zero ego. We rolled, we sparred, we trained. No one-upping, no pissing contest. Training. Two of the best females in the world just training together. It was awesome. And spoke again of her character to me.
Many out there believe I shouldn’t have had to do this show. That the UFC should already have signed me. That, in some ways (and I hope my Team Rousey family understands I mean no disrespect in saying this—love you guys), I was better than all this. And in some ways, Ronda treated me as such, like a comrade and not a “student.” It was a relief. She never once made me feel like she thought she was better than me, but at the same time, getting across that she very much believes she will kick my ass when we meet in the cage one day.
I think it could go without saying, but I don’t like Julianna. Many of the girls in the elimination fights knew her and didn’t like her. I didn’t know her, so I generally gave her the benefit of the doubt. She did not win me over. She tries too hard to get people to like her, exploits herself in all the wrong ways, and too easily turns her back on her friends. I don’t know how she will come across as the season goes on, but like I said, I believe at least the Queen’s Army won’t be blinded. All the others, fuck ‘em. All that being said, one other thing about Juliana: the girl doesn’t stop. She keeps scrapping.
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