Among the UFC’s brightest young stars is injured, and as stated by the company president she’s going to be out of commission for a couple of decades. It was revealed by UFC Tonight which TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena suffered a catastrophic injury to her right knee during training that resulted in tears for her ACL, MCL, LCL, meniscus, and hamstring. MMAFighting.com reported that the injury occurred during a grappling session Monday in Sikjitsu gym in Spokane, Washington. According to UFC president Dana White, the injury is so severe that the 24-year-old Pena is expected to miss two decades of action. She is set to have surgery on the knee next week once the swelling goes down. This is quite sad news and everybody in the MMA world should wish Pena a speedy recovery because she embarks on what will be a dark time in her life as she will not be able to compete in the sport she loves just at the time she had been starting to get great at it. According to her official biography on UFC.com, Pena said,”When I discovered MMA I realized it was the socket I needed and was searching for.” About battling in the Octagon,” Pena said:”This means the world for me to be fighting in the UFC. This is as high as it gets, it doesn’t get any higher, and I’ve made it. It’s a fantastic achievement for myself.” But for the next little while, she won’t have MMA within her entire life. Nicknamed”The Venezuelan Vixen,” Pena entered TUF 18 with a 4-2 record and has been paired up against veteran Shayna Baszler in the preliminary round after beating Gina Mazany to go into the home. Despite being a massive underdog into Baszler, Pena was able to rally after being down early to conquer Baszer via second-round submission. She subsequently submitted Sara Moras from the semifinals to earn a birth in the finale, and she won the show last November with a dominating first-round TKO win over Jessica Rakoczy. Currently ranked in the top 10 of the women’s bantamweight division, Pena was set to face Jessica Andrade at UFC 171 this March prior to being forced to pull out with this knee injury. Andrade will face Raquel Pennington. UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani was able to talk to Pena’s trainer at Sikjitsu, Rick Little, who said the injury Pena suffered was the”most gruesome” he had 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 the injury. According to White’s tweet that”what happened at her gym is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever noticed,” there is obviously more to the story. There is already speculation that this wasn’t just an accident, but that somebody at Pena’s camp held on to some submission too long, possibly a heel hook which is highly frowned upon to do while training with teammates. That’s just speculation for the time being, however, though I really don’t by for a moment that this harm was just an accident based on what White’s tweet. It was considerably more likely carelessness was the trigger. This is extremely disappointing news as I believe Pena was a future title contender in the UFC women’s bantamweight division. Pena’s wrestling is exceptional and she’s improving her overall game so quickly that she’d be a serious contender for the UFC bantamweight title within the next couple of years. Remember her beef with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey from the show supposed she would have been pushed up the ladder quicker than many others. But this injury will clearly delay that opportunity to fight for the belt, and it’s possible the injury renders that dream hopeless. For someone who is just 24, it’s really not fair that Pena has had to cope with all these injuries and bad luck as such a young age. Before TUF 18 was filmed, Pena was involved in a horrible car accident which left her with a busted nose. She had also suffered a broken arm one of her fights, in addition to the preceding two ACL tears before in her career. But that is life, and life isn’t fair. Pena was working as a waitress before TUF and also living at home with her loved ones. With her career just going to remove, Pena was looking forward to moving out and embarking on a promising career in the sport. Now, she’ll be out sitting on the sidelines for around the next 24 month after enduring among the worst knee injuries ever to a UFC fighter, and she’ll have difficulty making a living while doing this. I hope that the UFC assists out Pena financially through her off time because, after all, she is an investment to the corporation. The UFC does have an insurance plan that should pay a portion of Pena’s operation, but it is capped at $50,000 annually and may not cover most Pena’s medical-related costs. So the UFC can do the right thing and help her out in her time of need. We get the full story about what happened to Pena shortly, but for now let us all desire Pena great luck on her operation next week and let’s hope she is able to beat the projected two year layoff and get back in the cage earlier than later because she is a tremendous fighter and has a bright future in the sport.
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