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

Among the UFC’s brightest young stars is injured, and according to the company president she is likely to be out of commission for two years. It was revealed by UFC Tonight which TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena endured a catastrophic injury to her right knee during training that led to tears to 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. 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’s set to have surgery on the knee following week when the swelling goes down. This is quite sad news and everybody in the MMA world should want Pena a quick recovery as she embarks on what is going to be a dark period in her life as she won’t have the ability to compete in the game 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 found MMA I understood it was the outlet I needed and was searching for.” About battling in the Octagon, Pena said:”This means the world to me to be more fighting in the UFC. This is as high as it’s, it will not get any higher, and I’ve made it. It’s a fantastic achievement for myself.” But for the upcoming time, she will not have MMA in her life. Nicknamed”The Venezuelan Vixen,” Pena entered TUF 18 with a 4-2 record and has been paired up against veteran Shayna Baszler from the preliminary round after beating Gina Mazany to go into the house. Despite being a large underdog to Baszler, Pena managed to rally after being down early to conquer Baszer through second-round submission. She subsequently 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 the women’s bantamweight division, Pena was set to face Jessica Andrade at UFC 171 this March before being forced to pull out with this knee injury. Andrade will now face Raquel Pennington. UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani managed to talk to Pena’s coach at Sikjitsu, Rick Little, who said the injury Pena suffered was the”most grisly” he had ever seen in sports. According to Little, Pena’s injury was the result of an over-aggressive training session, which seems odd given the severity of this injury. According to White’s tweet that”what occurred at her gym is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever noticed,” there’s obviously more to the story. There is already speculation that this was not just an crash, but that somebody at Pena’s camp held to some entry overly long, possibly a heel hook which is highly frowned upon to perform while training with teammates. That’s just speculation for now, however, although I really don’t by for a moment that this injury was only 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 upcoming 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 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 show meant she would have been pushed up the ladder faster than many others. But this injury will obviously delay that opportunity to struggle for the belt, and it is possible that the injury renders that fantasy hopeless. For someone who is only 24, it’s really not reasonable 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 that left her with a broken nose. She had suffered a broken arm in one of her struggles, in addition to 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 at home with her loved ones. With her career just about to take off, Pena had been anticipating moving out and embarking on a promising career in the game. Now, she will be out sitting on the sidelines for around another 24 month after enduring among the worst knee injuries ever to a UFC fighter, and she will have difficulty making a living while doing so. I hope that the UFC assists out Pena financially during her time off because, after all, she’s an investment for the corporation. The UFC does have an insurance policy which should pay a portion of Pena’s operation, but it’s capped at $50,000 annually and might not cover most Pena’s medical-related expenses. So the UFC can do the perfect thing and help her out in her time of need. We get the complete story about what happened to Pena shortly, but for now let us all desire Pena good luck on her surgery next week and let us hope she is able to conquer the projected two year layoff and return in the crate earlier than later because she is a huge fighter and has a bright future in the sport.

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