One of the UFC’s brightest young stars is injured, and according to the company president she is going to be out of commission for two years. It was revealed by UFC Tonight that TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena suffered a devastating injury to her right knee during training that led to tears to her ACL, MCL, LCL, meniscus, and hamstring. MMAFighting.com reported the injury occurred during a grappling session Monday in Sikjitsu fitness center in Spokane, Washington. According to 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 is set to have surgery on the knee next week once the swelling goes down. This is very sad news and everybody in the MMA world ought to wish Pena a quick recovery as she embarks on what will be a dark time in her life as she will not have the ability 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 understood it was the socket I needed and was searching for.” About fighting in the Octagon,” Pena stated:”This means the world for 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 is 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 beating Gina Mazany to enter the house. Despite being a large underdog into Baszler, Pena managed 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 this past 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 in UFC 171 this March prior to being forced to pull out this knee injury. Andrade will face Raquel Pennington. UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani managed to talk to Pena’s coach at Sikjitsu, Rick Little, who said the injury Pena endured 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 severity of this injury. According to White’s tweet that”what occurred at her gym is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard,” there’s obviously much more to the story. There is already speculation that this wasn’t just an accident, but that someone in Pena’s camp held on to a submission too long, possibly a heel hook that’s highly frowned upon to do while training with teammates. That’s just speculation for now, though, though I really don’t by for a moment that this harm was only an accident based on what White’s tweet. It was considerably more likely carelessness was the trigger. This is very disappointing news as I think Pena was a upcoming title contender from the UFC women’s bantamweight division. Pena’s wrestling is exceptional and she’s improving her entire game so rapidly that she would be a serious competitor for the UFC bantamweight name within the next two years. Remember her beef with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey from the show supposed she would have been pushed up the ladder faster than many others. But this injury will obviously delay that opportunity to fight for the belt, and it is possible the injury renders that fantasy impossible. For someone who is just 24, it is not reasonable that Pena has had to cope with all these injuries and bad fortune as such a young age. Before TUF 18 was first filmed, Pena had been involved in a horrible car accident that left her with a busted nose. She had suffered a broken arm in one of her fights, as well as 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 living in the home with her loved ones. Together with her career just about to remove, Pena was anticipating moving out and embarking on a promising career in the game. Now, she will be outside sitting on the sidelines for around another 24 month after suffering one of the worst knee injuries ever into a UFC fighter, and she’ll have trouble making a living while doing this. I hope that the UFC helps out Pena financially through her time off since, after all, she is an investment to the company. The UFC does have an insurance plan that should cover a portion of Pena’s surgery, but it is capped at $50,000 annually and might not cover all of Pena’s medical-related costs. So hopefully the UFC can do the perfect thing and help her out in her time of need. Hopefully we get the complete story about what happened to Pena soon, but for today let us all wish Pena good luck on her surgery next week and let us hope she is able to conquer the projected two year layoff and get back into the cage sooner than later because she’s a tremendous fighter and has a bright future in the game.
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