Miesha Tate thinks Julianna Pena is more than capable of springing an upset when she squares off against Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight title at UFC 265 on August 7.

‘Cupcake’ is set to return to the Octagon for the first time in five years this Saturday night. The former Strikeforce and UFC champion will take on Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 31 and hopes to move into bantamweight title contention with a win.

In an interview with MMA Fighting ahead of her return, Tate explained that Nunes’ dominance has caused a “lull” in the bantamweight division.

“What I’ve noticed has changed in the last four years, there’s a bit of a lull in the division just because Amanda has been such a dominant champion,” Tate said. “All the women have been putting in a lot of work and they’ve been doing their part and they’ve been doing great but this is not women’s MMA problem.

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“This is any time there’s been a really dominant champion who’s cleared out most of the contenders, people start to question what can we do? Who’s next? Julianna Pena is next and I think she has a great stylistic challenge for Amanda,” Tate added.  “But the division has continued to evolve and I’m excited to get back in there and mix it up with these ladies.

Tate insists she is unequivocally rooting for Pena, who she coached to victory in season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter, to dethrone Nunes next month.

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“That’s what I want for myself [with a rematch against Amanda Nunes] but I think it’s cross that bridge when we get there,” Tate said. “I genuinely want Julianna to get this fight and I want her to win. I will be nothing but happy for her if she’s able to do that. There’s no part of me that wishes for her not to do this so I can have this fairytale storybook ending.

“What will be, will be. It doesn’t matter. I will get there eventually to the championship. I think if Julianna wins they’re going to do an immediate rematch, which is great. She has a great style, I can’t say that enough. Those cornfed folk up in Washington, we’ve just got some kind of tough about us. I’m excited for her and I want her to do it. But if she doesn’t do it, I believe I will.”

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Do agree with Miesha Tate? Do you think Julianna Pena could spring an upset by defeating Amanda Nunes at UFC 265?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.