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 likely to be out of commission for a couple of 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 for her ACL, MCL, LCL, meniscus, and hamstring. MMAFighting.com reported that the injury happened during a grappling session on Monday in Sikjitsu gym 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 everybody in the MMA world ought to wish Pena a speedy recovery because she embarks on what is going to be a dark time in her life as she will not have the ability to compete at the game she enjoys just at the time she had been starting to get really good at it. According to her official biography on UFC.com,” Pena said,”After I discovered MMA I understood it was the outlet I needed and was looking for.” About fighting in the Octagon,” Pena stated:”This means the world for me to be more fighting in the UFC. This is as large as it’s, it doesn’t get any higher, and I have made it. It is a fantastic accomplishment for myself.” However, 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 was paired up against veteran Shayna Baszler from the preliminary round after defeating Gina Mazany to go into the house. Despite being a massive underdog to Baszler, Pena was able to rally after being down early to defeat Baszer through second-round entry. She then 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 had been set to face 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 was able to speak to Pena’s trainer at Sikjitsu, Rick Little, who said the injury Pena endured was the”most grisly” he’d ever seen in sports. According to Little, Pena’s injury was the result of an over-aggressive training session, which seems odd given the seriousness of this injury. According to White’s tweet that”what occurred at her gym is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever noticed,” there is obviously more to the story. There is already speculation that this was not only an accident, but that someone at Pena’s camp held on to some submission too long, possibly a heel hook that’s 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 harm was just an accident based on what White’s tweet. It was much more likely carelessness was the trigger. This is extremely disappointing news as I believe Pena was a future 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’d be a serious contender for the UFC bantamweight title within the next couple of decades. Remember her beef with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey from the series supposed she’d have been pushed up the ladder faster than many others. But this injury will obviously delay that chance to fight for the belt, and it is possible that the injury renders that fantasy impossible. For somebody who’s 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 was involved in a nasty car accident that left her with a broken nose. She had also suffered a broken arm in one of her struggles, as well as the preceding two ACL tears before in her career. But that’s life, and life is not fair. Pena was employed as a waitress before TUF and also living in the home with her family. With her career just about to take off, Pena was looking forward to moving out and embarking on a promising career in the game. Now, she’ll be outside sitting on the sidelines for up to another 24 month after enduring one of the worst knee injuries ever to a UFC fighter, and she’ll have trouble making a living while doing so. I am hoping that the UFC assists out Pena financially during her time off since, after all, she’s an investment to the corporation. The UFC does have an insurance plan which should pay part of Pena’s surgery, but it is capped at $50,000 yearly and may not cover all Pena’s medical-related costs. So hopefully the UFC can do exactly the perfect thing and help her out in her time of need. We get the full story about what happened to Pena soon, but for today let us all wish Pena great luck on her operation next week and let us hope she is able to conquer the projected two year layoff and return into the crate earlier than later because she’s a tremendous fighter and has a bright future in the sport.

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