One of the UFC’s brightest young stars is hurt, and as stated by the company president she is likely to be out of commission for two decades. It was yesterday revealed by UFC Tonight which TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena endured a catastrophic injury to her right knee during training that led to tears to her ACL, MCL, LCL, meniscus, and hamstring. MMAFighting.com reported the injury happened during a grappling session on Monday at 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 is set to get surgery on the knee next week when the swelling goes down. This is quite sad news and everyone in the MMA world ought to want Pena a quick recovery as she embarks on what will be a dark time in her life as she will not be able to compete in the game she loves 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 found MMA I understood it was the socket I needed and was looking for.” About battling in the Octagon, Pena stated:”It means the world to me to be fighting in the UFC. This is as large as it gets, it will not get any higher, and I have made it. It is a fantastic accomplishment for myself.” However, for the next little while, she won’t have MMA in her life. Nicknamed”The Venezuelan Vixen,” Pena entered TUF 18 with a 4-2 record and was matched up against veteran Shayna Baszler in the preliminary round after beating Gina Mazany to go into the house. 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 in 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 those women’s bantamweight division, Pena was set to confront Jessica Andrade at UFC 171 that 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 trainer at Sikjitsu, Rick Little, who said the harm Pena endured was the”most gruesome” he had ever seen in sports. According to Little, Pena’s harm was the consequence of an over-aggressive training session, which seems strange given the severity of the injury. Based on 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 narrative. There’s already speculation that this wasn’t just an crash, but that someone at Pena’s camp held on to some entry overly long, possibly a heel hook which is highly frowned upon to perform while training with teammates. That is only speculation for now, though, though I don’t by for a minute that this harm was just an accident based on which White’s tweet. It was much more likely carelessness was the cause. This is very disappointing news as I think 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 rapidly that she’d be a serious contender for the UFC bantamweight title within the next couple of years. Keep in mind her beef with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey from the show supposed she’d have been pushed up the ladder faster than many others. However, this harm will obviously delay that chance to struggle for the belt, and it’s possible that the injury renders that fantasy impossible. For someone who is just 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 first filmed, Pena had been involved in a nasty car accident which left her with a broken nose. She had also suffered a broken arm one of her fights, in addition to the previous two ACL tears before in her career. But that’s life, and life isn’t fair. Pena was employed as a waitress before TUF and also living at home with her loved ones. With her career just about to take off, Pena had been anticipating moving out and embarking on a promising career in the sport. Now, she will be outside sitting on the sidelines for around another 24 month after enduring one of the worst knee injuries ever to a UFC fighter, and she will have trouble making a living while doing this. I hope the UFC helps out Pena financially during her time off because, after all, she is an investment for the company. The UFC does have an insurance plan which should pay a portion of Pena’s operation, but it is capped at $50,000 yearly and might not cover all Pena’s medical-related costs. So the UFC can do exactly the right 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’s all wish Pena good luck on her surgery next week and let’s hope she is able to conquer the estimated two year layoff and return into the crate sooner than later because she is a tremendous fighter and has a bright future in the sport.
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