Julianna Peña Suffers Injury, Withdraws From UFC 171 FightTUF 18 winner Julianna “The Venezuelan Vixen” Peña has suffered a serious knee injury and has been forced to withdraw from her bout against Jéssica “Bate Estaca” Andrade at UFC 171: “Hendricks vs Lawler” on March 15th in Dallas, Texas. MMAjunkie.com first reported on Peña’s injury today.

Peña has already sustained two torn ACLs that kept her out of action for more than two full years. She returned to MMA in late 2011 and has since gone 2-2 including a brief stint in the flyweight division. Peña became the first female winner of The Ultimate Fighter competition this past November.

Peña (5-2-0) has endured many ups and downs during her professional MMA career that dates back to her debut in May 2009. She finished each of her first three opponents, but suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in her knee during a December 2009 win over Stephanie Webber. After undergoing surgery, Peña returned to training ahead of schedule and the decision to rush back into action proved to be a costly one when Peña re-tore her ACL. As a result, she was forced to undergo a second surgery and sat on the sidelines all the way until December 2011.

When Peña did step back into the cage, she did so in the 125-pound flyweight division. Peña submitted Rachael Swatez in her first fight back, then moved back up to the bantamweight division to face Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras the following April. Moras prevailed via doctor stoppage at the end of the second round after breaking Peña’s arm with an armbar. After recovering from the injury, Peña dropped down to 125 pounds again and suffered a razor-thin decision loss to unbeaten prospect DeAnna “The Argentine Assassin” Bennett this past February.

As a result of the inconsistency, many critics gave Peña little chance at success leading into The Ultimate Fighter 18. However, after defeating Gina “Danger” Mazany, Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler and Moras in succession, Peña advanced to the tournament final on November 30th. There, she stopped Jessica “The Ragin'” Rakoczy to become the first female Ultimate Fighter. She planned to make her post-TUF Octagon debut in March, but will instead be sidelined until the end of 2014.

Peña’s planned opponent, Andrade, now awaits a new foe on the card. Former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion Sarah Kaufman has campaigned for a fight against Andrade. As has Baszler, whom Peña submitted in the TUF 18 quarterfinal round.

UFC 171: “Hendricks vs Lawler” takes place on March 15th at American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. The event is headlined by a UFC Welterweight Championship bout between Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks and “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler.



(Photo Credit: UFC)

  1. So sorry to hear of Peña’s injury. I hope it’s not the same knee which suffered the 2 previous ACL tears. She’s had such a rough time with injuries her entire career, all the more disappointing given her enormous talent. I believe she would have beaten Andrade and likely moved into the top 5 and possibly a title shot.

    A reasonable replacement for Peña might be Nuñes to fight Andrade. That would be a war.

  2. I just read Kaufmann is lobbying hard to get the Andrade fight. If there’s anything the UFC likes, it’s a fighter stepping up where there’s a need. I think Kaufmann just got herself another date in the Octagon. Kaufmann vs. Andrade would be spectacular.

  3. Kaufman is too big for Andrade, and would destroy her, IMO.

  4. Rafael – I just saw it’s going to be Pennington stepping in to face Andrade. I don’t know who will win that one… Any thoughts?

  5. Well apparently Peña’s injury is reported to be catastrophic and possibly career ending. Dana White says she will be out for 2 years because of it. I’ve never heard of someone coming back from an injury that requires such an extraordinarily long rehabilitation. I truly wish the best for Julianna. It’s a very sad day for MMA.