Julianna Peña To Face Rachael Swatez On December 15thUnbeaten prospect Julianna “The Venezuelan Vixen” Peña will step back into the cage for the first time in two years when she faces Rachael Swatez at Conquest of the Cage on December 15th. The fight will take place at the Northern Quest Casino near Peña’s hometown of Spokane, Washington.

Peña, who has been on the sidelines due to a serious knee injury, spoke with MMARising.com on Monday about her road to recovery and the return bout with British Columbia’s Swatez, who picked up a win in March. Peña and Swatez are set to square off in a featured matchup at 125 pounds.

Peña (2-0-0) first injured her knee in early 2008 during a training session that she later discovered was not pertinent to MMA, but it was not until after a December 2009 victory over Stephanie Webber that Peña understood the severity of the injury. The diagnosis was a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus in her knee, which would require surgery.

Four months later, Peña received a big opportunity in the form of a bout with fellow prospect Kerry Vera at Strikeforce Challengers 8, but the fight was scrapped after Vera herself suffered an injury and Peña underwent surgery on her knee. She was given a nine-month recovery time, but found herself missing training and competition and tried to come back early from the injury. It was a decision that she now describes as “cocky” and there were consequences.

During a routine drill with a familiar training partner, Peña re-tore the ACL and meniscus in her knee. The costly setback kept her out of action throughout 2010 and much of 2011, but after a successful second surgery, she returned to training this summer. Peña, now 22, has learned from her mistakes and is now focused on getting back to 100% and resuming her rise up the rankings.

“Since I haven’t fought in two years and I’ll be fighting in my hometown of 22 years, I will say that I can’t wait,” Peña says. “I am very stoked and want to put on a show for my family and friends. My family thinks [fighting’s] a joke but I’ve finally found my passion and I can’t wait to whoop that ass in the cage.”

Peña will not have an easy opponent for her return fight. Swatez (4-2-0) has finished her opponents in all four of her pro wins and has never been stopped. The Nanaimo, B.C., native has won four of five fights since dropping her pro debut and recently submitted Wendy Roy at Battlefield Fight League 7 in March. Like Peña, Swatez is only 22 and remains early in her mixed martial arts career.

“I’m glad we found an opponent and I think it’s great that she decided to take the fight,” Peña says of Swatez. “The key to beating her will be to trust my training and skills and let my work say the rest.”

Peña and Swatez face off in a featured attraction on the December 15th Conquest of the Cage card, which takes place at the Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights, Washington. In addition to family and friends, Peña will have the support of her SikJitsu teammates; a tight-knit group that includes notable fighters Lyle Beerbohm and Cody McKenzie.



(Photo Credit: Fightergirls.com)