MMA ODDS AND ENDS FOR THURSDAY: JULIANNA PENA OUT FOR TWO YEARS FOLLOWING CATASTROPHIC KNEE INJURY
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Among the UFC’s brightest young stars is injured, and according to the company president she’s going to be out of commission for two years. It was yesterday revealed by UFC Tonight that TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena endured a catastrophic injury to her right knee during training that resulted in tears for her ACL, MCL, LCL, meniscus, and hamstring. MMAFighting.com reported 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 two years of actions. She’s set to have surgery on the knee following week once the swelling goes down. This is quite sad news and everyone 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 at the game she enjoys just at the time she had been beginning 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 fighting in the Octagon, Pena said:”It means the world for me to be fighting in the UFC. This is as high as it gets, it doesn’t get any higher, and I’ve made it. It is a great accomplishment for myself.” However, for the upcoming time, she will not have MMA in 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 home. Despite being a massive underdog into Baszler, Pena was able to rally after being early to conquer Baszer through second-round entry. She then submitted Sara Moras from 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 the 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 face Raquel Pennington. UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani was able to speak to Pena’s trainer at Sikjitsu, Rick Little, who said the harm Pena endured was the”most gruesome” he’d ever seen in sports. According to Little, Pena’s injury was the result 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 more to the narrative. There’s already speculation that this was not just an accident, but that somebody in Pena’s camp held on to some entry overly long, maybe a heel hook which is highly frowned upon to perform while training with teammates. That’s just speculation for now, though, although I don’t by for a minute that this harm was just an accident based on which White’s tweet. It was much more inclined carelessness was the trigger. 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 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. Keep in mind her beef with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey from the show supposed she would have been pushed up the ladder quicker than others. But this harm will clearly delay that chance to fight for the belt, and it is possible that the injury renders that fantasy hopeless. For someone who is only 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 horrible car accident which left her with a busted nose. She had suffered a broken arm one of her fights, in addition to the previous 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 living in the home with her loved ones. With her career just about to remove, Pena was looking forward to moving out and embarking on a promising career in the sport. Now, she’ll be out sitting on the sidelines for up to the next 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 the UFC helps out Pena financially during her time off since, after all, she is an investment to the company. The UFC does have an insurance plan which should pay part of Pena’s operation, but it is capped at $50,000 annually and might not cover all of Pena’s medical-related costs. So the UFC can do the perfect thing and help her out in her time of need. Hopefully we get the full story about what happened to Pena soon, but for today let’s all wish Pena great luck on her operation next week and let’s hope she can beat the projected two year layoff and return in the cage sooner than later because she’s a huge fighter and has a bright future in the game.
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