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8 Feb, 2022 16:44

UFC champ Pena apologizes for ‘insensitive’ Covid comments

Julianna Pena says that comments she made to podcast host Joe Rogan in which she appeared to dismiss Covid were 'misconstrued'
UFC champ Pena apologizes for ‘insensitive’ Covid comments

UFC queen Julianna Pena has walked back comments she made on Joe Rogan's podcast recently in which she claimed that the Covid-19 pandemic was little more than a "money-grab" and that "they are trying to kill us".

Pena, who shocked the MMA community when she dethroned Amanda Nunes to claim the UFC women's bantamweight title in December, drew considerable heat online when she referred to herself as a "massive conspiracy theorist" on Rogan's Spotify podcast – which itself has been in the public eye recently due to claims of it spreading Covid misinformation.

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

“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.”

Pena, though, was again pressed on the matter by the media in Houston, Texas this week where she was promoting the forthcoming season of the UFC's reality series 'The Ultimate Fighter', in which she will be a coach opposite former and future foe Nunes.

And this time, Pena was a little more considered in her approach.

“I took a little heat on that as well,” she said. “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.”

Pena, who has previously contracted Covid, admitted that the pandemic is “absolutely real” and said that she could only offer her apologies to anyone who took her comments the wrong way.

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

“It absolutely is real,” she added. “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.”

Pena also spoke on the current controversy facing Rogan after a compilation was released online of him using racially insensitive language at various stages throughout his broadcasting career, and said that there appears to be a campaign aimed at 'canceling' the popular podcaster.

“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,” Pena 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 [discussing] the [topic] and I just kept coming right back to it and hammering it.

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