One of the UFC’s brightest young stars is hurt, and as stated by the company president she’s likely to be out of commission for two decades. It was yesterday revealed by UFC Tonight that TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena endured a devastating injury to her right knee during training that led to tears to her ACL, MCL, LCL, meniscus, and hamstring. reported the injury occurred 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 two years of actions. She is set to have surgery on the knee next week once the swelling goes down. This is quite sad news and everyone in the MMA world should wish Pena a speedy recovery as she embarks on what is going to be a dark time 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, Pena said,“When I discovered MMA I understood it was the outlet I needed and was searching for.“ About fighting in the Octagon, Pena said:“It means the world to me to be more 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 fantastic achievement for myself.“ However, for the next time, she won’t have MMA in her 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 beating Gina Mazany to enter the home. Despite being a large underdog into Baszler, Pena managed to rally after being early to defeat Baszer via second-round submission. She subsequently 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 the women’s bantamweight division, Pena was set to confront 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 was able to talk to Pena’s trainer at Sikjitsu, Rick Little, who said the injury Pena endured was the“most grisly“ 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 severity of the accident. Based on White’s tweet that“what occurred at her gym is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever noticed,“ there’s obviously much more to the story. There’s already speculation that this wasn’t just an accident, but that somebody at Pena’s camp held on to some submission overly long, maybe a heel hook that’s highly frowned upon to perform while training with teammates. That’s only speculation for now, though, although I really don’t by for a moment that this injury was just an accident based on which White’s tweet. It was much more likely carelessness was the cause. This is extremely disappointing news as I think Pena was a future title contender from the UFC women’s bantamweight division. Pena’s wrestling is exceptional and she is 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 meant she’d have been pushed up the ladder faster than many others. But this injury will clearly delay that opportunity to struggle for the belt, and it is possible the injury renders that dream impossible. For someone who is just 24, it’s not reasonable that Pena has needed to cope with all these injuries and bad luck as such a young age. Before TUF 18 was first filmed, Pena was involved in a nasty car accident that left her with a busted nose. She had suffered a broken arm one of her struggles, in addition to the preceding two ACL tears earlier in her career. But that’s life, and life is not fair. Pena was employed as a waitress before TUF and also living at home with her family. With her career just about to remove, Pena was looking forward to moving out and embarking on a promising career in the game. Now, she will be outside sitting on the sidelines for around another 24 month after suffering among 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 assists out Pena financially during her time off because, after all, she is an investment to the company. The UFC does have an insurance plan that should cover part of Pena’s operation, but it’s capped at $50,000 annually and may not cover all Pena’s medical-related costs. So hopefully 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 now let’s all desire Pena great luck on her surgery next week and let us hope she can conquer the projected two year layoff and return in the cage sooner than later because she is a huge fighter and has a bright future in the sport.

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