One of the UFC’s brightest young stars is hurt, and according to the company president she’s likely to be out of commission for a couple of years. It was yesterday revealed by UFC Tonight which TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena suffered a catastrophic injury to her right knee during training that led to tears to her ACL, MCL, LCL, meniscus, and hamstring. MMAFighting.com reported that the injury occurred during a grappling session on Monday in Sikjitsu fitness center in Spokane, Washington. In accordance with UFC president Dana White, the injury is so severe that the 24-year-old Pena is expected to miss a couple of years of action. She’s set to get surgery on the knee following week when the swelling goes down. This is quite sad news and everyone in the MMA world should wish Pena a quick recovery because she embarks on what will be a dark period in her life as she will not be able to compete in the game she enjoys just at the time she was starting to get really good at it. According to her official biography on UFC.com,” Pena said,”When I discovered MMA I understood it was the socket I needed and was searching for.” About fighting in the Octagon, Pena stated:”This means the world to me to be more fighting in the UFC. This is as high as it gets, it will not get any higher, and I’ve made it. It’s a great achievement for myself.” However, for the upcoming little while, she will not have MMA within her life. Nicknamed”The Venezuelan Vixen,” Pena entered TUF 18 with a 4-2 record and has been matched up against veteran Shayna Baszler from the preliminary round after defeating Gina Mazany to go into the home. Despite being a large underdog into Baszler, Pena was able to rally after being down early to conquer Baszer via second-round submission. She then submitted Sara Moras from the semifinals to earn a birth in the finale, and she won the series last November with a dominating first-round TKO win over Jessica Rakoczy. Currently ranked in the top 10 of those women’s bantamweight division, Pena had been set to confront Jessica Andrade in UFC 171 that March prior to being forced to pull out this knee injury. Andrade will now face Raquel Pennington. UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani managed to talk to Pena’s trainer at Sikjitsu, Rick Little, who said the injury Pena suffered was the”most gruesome” he’d ever seen in sports. According to Little, Pena’s injury was the consequence of an over-aggressive training session, which seems strange given the seriousness of this injury. According to White’s tweet which”what occurred at her gym is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever noticed,” there is obviously much more to the story. There’s already speculation that this was not only an crash, but that somebody at Pena’s camp held on to some entry too long, possibly a heel hook which is highly frowned upon to perform while training with teammates. That’s just speculation for the time being, however, though I really don’t by for a minute that this injury was just an accident based on which White’s tweet. It was much more inclined carelessness was the cause. This is extremely disappointing news as I believe Pena was a upcoming title contender in the UFC women’s bantamweight division. Pena’s wrestling is exceptional and she is improving her overall game so quickly that she would be a serious competitor for the UFC bantamweight title within the next couple of decades. Remember her beef with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in the series meant she would have been pushed up the ladder quicker than many others. But this injury will clearly delay that opportunity to struggle for the belt, and it is possible the injury renders that fantasy hopeless. For somebody who’s only 24, it is not reasonable that Pena has had to deal with all these injuries and bad fortune as such a young age. Before TUF 18 was filmed, Pena had been involved in a nasty car accident that left her with a busted nose. She had also suffered a broken arm in one of her fights, in addition to the previous two ACL tears earlier in her career. But that’s life, and life isn’t fair. Pena was working as a waitress before TUF and also living at home with her family. With her career just about to remove, Pena was looking forward to moving out and embarking on a promising career in the game. Now, she’ll be outside sitting on the sidelines for around another 24 month after enduring among the worst knee injuries ever into a UFC fighter, and she will have difficulty making a living while doing so. I hope the UFC assists out Pena financially during her off time since, after all, she is an investment for the company. The UFC does have an insurance policy which should cover a portion of Pena’s surgery, but it is capped at $50,000 yearly and may not cover most of Pena’s medical-related expenses. So hopefully the UFC can do exactly the perfect thing and help her out in her time of need. We get the complete story about what happened to Pena shortly, but for today let us all wish Pena great luck on her operation next week and let us hope she can beat the projected two year layoff and return into the crate sooner than later because she’s a tremendous fighter and has a bright future in the sport.
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