O’Neill, who boasts a 9-0 mixed martial arts record and competes in the UFC women’s flyweight division, took to Twitter to respond to Pena’s recent comments.
In an interview with Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour,” Pena said that Rousey “ruined” her legacy by leaving mixed martial arts for pro wrestling after suffering back-to-back KO/TKO defeats to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes.
“Ronda is so old news, right?” Pena said via MMA Fighting. “I think that what’s incredible about her is that she opened up the door and was destroying people in 10 seconds, and became a star because she was demolishing people in the first round, and that’s great — but she got knocked out twice and never came back. So how legit is she?
“She had to go to pro wrestling. And I get that and I think that that’s great. But as a fighter and somebody who is competitive, I know that — deep down — it probably truly bothers her, the fact that she went away off of two knockout losses and never came back to make her name good.
“If it really truly does bother her and if it gets under her skin at the end of the day to know that, you know, her legacy is kind of ruined by the fact that she never came back and never got back on the horse, then I would like to invite her to please come back — and if she would like to come back, I would welcome her with open arms.”
Rousey is arguably the most important figure in women’s MMA. UFC president Dana White has said several times that if it wasn’t for Rowdy’s pre-Zuffa dominance, he likely wouldn’t have brought female fighting into the promotion.
O’Neill Took Rousey’s Side, Called Rowdy a ‘Trailblazer’
O’Neill respects what Rowdy did for the sport, taking to Twitter to defend her legacy by calling her a “trailblazer.”
“A joke ? Because she had a few losses and decided to move on with her life?” O’Neill wrote. “This isn’t how it should be… we should be supporting each other as females in this sport… you can have an opinion on someone’s skills but this isn’t it. Forever a trailblazer & all she done for females”
Pena Called Rousey a ‘Sellout,’ Said She’s ‘Ready’ to Fight Rousey
Odds are fans will never see Rowdy fight inside the Octagon again. However, Pena said she would love to welcome “sellout” Rousey back to MMA.
“She’s kind of a joke in the MMA world now, because she’s a — what is the word? — sellout,” Pena continued. “Like, a little bit of a sellout there. I mean, I guess I understand, right? It’s like, pro wrestling is fake, you get paid millions of dollars, I get it. But for me, for real s***, for like the ‘you’re the real, real deal,’ I would say that that’s in the UFC. And if she ever wants any of that real smoke, I’m ready.”