One of 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 years. It was revealed by UFC Tonight that 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 decades of action. She is set to have surgery on the knee following week when the swelling goes down. This is quite sad news and everybody in the MMA world ought to wish Pena a speedy recovery as she embarks on what is going to be a dark period in her life as she will not be able to compete in the sport she loves just at the time she was beginning to get really good at it. According to her official biography on UFC.com,” Pena said,”When I found MMA I realized it was the outlet I needed and was searching for.” About battling in the Octagon,” Pena said:”This means the world for me to be more fighting in the UFC. This is as large as it gets, it doesn’t get any higher, and I’ve made it. It is a great achievement for myself.” But for the upcoming time, she won’t have MMA within her entire life. Nicknamed”The Venezuelan Vixen,” Pena entered TUF 18 with a 4-2 record and was paired up against veteran Shayna Baszler in the preliminary round after defeating Gina Mazany to go into the home. Despite being a large underdog to Baszler, Pena was able to rally after being down early to conquer Baszer through second-round submission. She subsequently submitted Sara Moras in 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 those women’s bantamweight division, Pena was set to confront Jessica Andrade in UFC 171 this March prior to being forced to pull out this knee injury. Andrade will now face Raquel Pennington. UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani was able to speak to Pena’s coach 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 this accident. According to White’s tweet that”what happened at her gym is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever noticed,” there’s obviously much more to the story. There is already speculation that this was not only an crash, but that someone at Pena’s camp held on to some submission overly long, possibly a heel hook which is highly frowned upon to do while training with teammates. That’s just speculation for the time being, though, although I really don’t by for a minute that this harm was just an accident based on what White’s tweet. It was much more likely carelessness was the cause. This is extremely disappointing news as I believe Pena was a upcoming title contender from the UFC women’s bantamweight division. Pena’s wrestling is excellent and she’s improving her overall game so quickly that she’d be a serious competitor for the UFC bantamweight title within the next couple of years. Remember her beef with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in the show supposed she’d have been pushed up the ladder faster than many others. However, this harm will obviously delay that chance to fight for the belt, and it is possible the injury renders that dream hopeless. For somebody who’s only 24, it is not reasonable that Pena has needed to deal with all these injuries and bad luck as such a young age. Before TUF 18 was first filmed, Pena had been involved in a horrible car accident which left her with a busted nose. She had suffered a broken arm in one of her struggles, 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 living at home with her loved ones. Together with her career just going to take off, Pena had been 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 the next 24 month after enduring among the worst knee injuries ever to a UFC fighter, and she will have trouble making a living while doing this. I am hoping that the UFC helps out Pena financially during her time off because, after all, she’s an investment to the corporation. The UFC does have an insurance policy that should cover a portion of Pena’s surgery, but it’s capped at $50,000 annually and may not cover most Pena’s medical-related costs. So the UFC can do exactly the perfect thing and help her out in her time of need. Hopefully we get the full story about what happened to Pena shortly, but for today let’s all desire Pena great luck on her surgery 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 huge fighter and has a bright future in the sport.
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