MMA ODDS AND ENDS FOR THURSDAY: JULIANNA PENA OUT FOR TWO YEARS FOLLOWING CATASTROPHIC KNEE INJURY

One of the UFC’s brightest young stars is injured, and according to the company president she is likely to be out of commission for a couple of years. It was revealed by UFC Tonight which TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena suffered a devastating injury to her right knee during training that resulted in tears to her ACL, MCL, LCL, meniscus, and hamstring. MMAFighting.com reported that the injury happened during a grappling session on Monday at 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 get surgery on the knee following week when the swelling goes down. This is quite sad news and everyone in the MMA world should want Pena a quick recovery because she embarks on what is going to be a dark period in her life as she will not be able to compete at the sport she enjoys just at the time she was beginning to get great at it. According to her official biography on UFC.com, Pena said,”When I discovered MMA I realized it was the outlet I needed and was looking for.” About fighting in the Octagon,” Pena stated:”This means the world to me to be fighting in the UFC. This is as high as it gets, it doesn’t get any higher, and I have made it. It’s a great achievement for myself.” But for the upcoming 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 matched up against veteran Shayna Baszler from the preliminary round after defeating Gina Mazany to enter the home. Despite being a large underdog to Baszler, Pena was able to rally after being early to conquer Baszer through 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 at UFC 171 this March prior to being forced to pull out with this knee injury. Andrade will now face Raquel Pennington. UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani managed to speak to Pena’s coach at Sikjitsu, Rick Little, who said the harm Pena suffered was the”most gruesome” he’d ever seen in sports. According to Little, Pena’s harm was the result of an over-aggressive training session, which seems strange given the severity of this injury. Based on White’s tweet which”what occurred at her gym is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard,” there’s obviously more to the story. There is already speculation that this was not only an accident, but that someone in Pena’s camp held on to a submission overly long, possibly a heel hook which is highly frowned upon to do while training with teammates. That is only speculation for now, though, although I don’t by for a moment that this injury was only an accident based on what White’s tweet. It was much more likely carelessness was the cause. This is very 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 rapidly that she’d be a serious competitor for the UFC bantamweight name within the next couple of years. Remember her beef with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in the series supposed she’d have been pushed up the ladder faster than many others. But this harm will clearly delay that chance to fight for the belt, and it is possible that the injury renders that dream impossible. For someone who is just 24, it is really not reasonable that Pena has needed to deal with so many injuries and bad luck 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 broken nose. She had suffered a broken arm in one of her struggles, as well as the preceding two ACL tears earlier in her career. But that’s life, and life isn’t fair. Pena was employed as a waitress before TUF and living in the home with her loved ones. Together with her career just going to remove, Pena had been 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 suffering among the worst knee injuries ever to a UFC fighter, and she will have trouble making a living while doing so. I am hoping that the UFC helps out Pena financially through her time off because, after all, she’s an investment for the company. The UFC does have an insurance policy that should cover a portion of Pena’s operation, but it’s capped at $50,000 yearly and might not cover most Pena’s medical-related costs. So the UFC can do the perfect thing and help her out in her time of need. We get the full story about what happened to Pena shortly, but for today let’s all wish Pena good luck on her operation next week and let’s hope she can beat the projected two year layoff and return into the crate earlier than later because she’s a huge fighter and has a bright future in the sport.

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