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 hurt, and according to the company president she is going to be out of commission for a couple of years. It was yesterday revealed by UFC Tonight which TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena endured 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 occurred during a grappling session 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 decades of actions. She’s set to get 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 quick recovery because she embarks on what will be a dark period in her life as she will not be able to compete at the sport 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 discovered MMA I understood it was the outlet I needed and was looking for.” About fighting in the Octagon,” Pena stated:”It means the world for me to be fighting in the UFC. This is as large as it’s, it doesn’t get any higher, and I’ve made it. It is a fantastic accomplishment for myself.” But for the next time, she will not 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 in the preliminary round after beating Gina Mazany to go into the house. Despite being a large underdog into Baszler, Pena managed to rally after being early to defeat Baszer via second-round entry. She subsequently submitted Sara Moras from the semifinals to earn a birth in the finale, and she won the series 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 had been set to face Jessica Andrade at UFC 171 that 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 injury Pena suffered 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 happened at her gym is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever noticed,” there’s obviously more to the narrative. There’s already speculation that this wasn’t just an crash, but that somebody at Pena’s camp held to a entry overly long, maybe a heel hook which is highly frowned upon to perform while training with teammates. That is just speculation for the time being, though, although I don’t by for a moment that this harm was only 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 upcoming title contender from 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 title within the next two decades. Remember her beef with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in the show supposed she would have been pushed up the ladder quicker than many others. But this harm will obviously delay that opportunity to fight for the belt, and it is possible that the injury renders that fantasy hopeless. For someone who is only 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 had been involved in a nasty car accident which left her with a busted 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 is life, and life is not fair. Pena was working as a waitress before TUF and also living in the home with her loved ones. With her career just going to take off, Pena had been anticipating 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 one of the worst knee injuries ever to a UFC fighter, and she will have trouble making a living while doing so. I am hoping the UFC assists out Pena financially through her off time because, after all, she is an investment for the company. The UFC does have an insurance plan that should pay part of Pena’s surgery, but it’s capped at $50,000 annually and might not cover all of Pena’s medical-related expenses. So the UFC can do exactly the right thing and help her out in her time of need. We get the full story about what happened to Pena soon, but for now let’s all wish Pena great luck on her operation next week and let us hope she can beat the estimated two year layoff and get back in the cage sooner than later because she is a tremendous fighter and has a bright future in the game.

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