28-Year-Old UFC Bantamweight 9-3-0
October 17, 2017 Julianna Pena News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
Pena has put her career on hold since finding out she was pregnant but she plans to return to fighting after giving birth to her first child, Shaun Al-Shatti of MMAFighting.com reports.
Pena hasn't seen action since January but didn't explain why until appearing on The MMA Hour. After discovering that she was pregnant, Pena decided to pause her fighting career to focus on her first baby with her fiancé Louis. While she wants to return to the cage about eight months after giving birth, the timetable for her return is unpredictable. Each pregnancy and recovery time is different and Pena wants to make sure her baby gets the attention she deserves. Julianna and Louis plan to name their little girl Isabella.
Julianna Pena: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
Fantasy AnalysisPena (9-3 overall) is currently a bantamweight looking to drop ten pounds to join the UFC's newly-created flyweight division. She joined the promotion in 2013 and won a title belt in TUF 18 Finale. This decision comes after a loss (submission-armbar) to Valentina Shevchenko in a main event fight at UFC Fight Night (UFC on Fox 23) in January.
Fantasy AnalysisIt was Pena's first loss since joining the UFC roster. She did good work from the clinch in Round 1, but she spent the vast majority of the first frame getting controlled on the mat. The former Ultimate Fighter winner was faring better in Round 2, but she was unable to defend an armbar from Shevchenko that seemingly came out of nowhere. Pena is a big, physical bantamweight, but she was a facing a bigger, stronger opponent in Shevchenko. The good news is that Pena hasn't shown any ill effects from the massive knee injury that cost her nearly a year and a half worth of action from November 2013 to April 2015. Because the UFC women's 135-pound division is lacking top-end talent, Pena is going to get another chance to impact the title picture.
Fantasy AnalysisPena is undefeated since joining the UFC, and recently capped off a four-fight winning streak with a unanimous-decision victory over Cat Zingano at UFC 200. "The Venezuelan Vixen" began her run with the promotion with back-to-back, first-round TKO victories, but has ridden out decisions when faced with tougher competition. She is as deserving of a title shot as any female bantamweight, but Ronda Rousey understandably jumped the line for the first crack at new champion Amanda Nunes. Should Pena emerge victorious over the No. 2-ranked Shevchenko, she'll be one of the top candidates for the next title chance in mid-to-late 2017.
Fantasy AnalysisThat may have been enough to earn the 26-year-old Pena a title shot. She was severely outclassed by Zingano during the first frame, but she was in complete control over the final ten minutes, particularly in Round 3 when she was able to drag Zingano to the mat and keep her there for nearly the entirety of the round. When all was said and done, Pena won the total strike battle by a ridiculous count of 129-23. The Venezuelan Vixen is now 4-0 in the UFC despite missing nearly 18 months following reconstructive knee after her UFC debut in November 2013. The UFC needs to figure out what exactly is going on with Ronda Rousey, but Pena was ranked as the No. 5 women's bantamweight heading into this fight, and she dispatched the woman who entered the fight ranked No. 3.
Fantasy AnalysisPena hasnâ€™t fought since October and she has had legal troubles during her time away from the cage. She was arrested and charged with two counts of assault in December. Inside the cage, Pena has won all three of her UFC fights, but she was forced to miss nearly a year and a half due to a serious knee injury and she has never faced anyone remotely close to the caliber of Zingano. Pena is young enough (26) and talented enough that it is reasonable to expect improvement from her on a fight-by-fight basis, but this is a tall task. Pena is going to find herself ranked in the top-five if she can somehow pull the upset over the former title challenger.
Fantasy AnalysisPena came to a resolution with prosecutors recently stemming from alleged assault charges and an arrest in late 2015. The 26-year-old MMA fighter last fought in October of last year when she defeated Jessica Eye by unanimous decision at UFC 192. Now that Pena is cleared to return to fighting, she is expected to be scheduled for a bout in the near future.
Fantasy AnalysisPena was released on $2,000 bail. It sure seems like this was your typical drunken bar room brawl, but that seems unlikely to help Pena's cause in terms of a possible suspension. UFC senior VP of public relations Dave Sholler said that the UFC is "aware of the situation" and "in the process of gathering more information." With seemingly more and more UFC fighters getting in trouble with the law these days, it's entirely possible that Pena could be suspended for her actions if the UFC finds enough evidence against her. Pena's last fight was an easy unanimous decision win over Jessica Eye in early October.
Fantasy AnalysisPena deserved to win, but outside of a pair of takedowns in the first round and a pair of legitimate submission attempts in the third round, she did little of note. Pena appeared to be the stronger fighter, but Eye held her own on the mat. The odd scoring was the result of a point being deducted from Eye for an illegal knee in the second round. A win on her record is all that matters, but it was far from an impressive performance from Pena. Her ceiling remains extremely high, but it wasn't a very impressive effort on Saturday.
Fantasy AnalysisLong seen as one of the brightest prospects in the division, the main thing holding Pena back is her inability to stay healthy. She missed 17 months worth of action after tearing nearly every ligament in her knee in a serious training mishap before returning in April and knocking out Milena Dudieva in the first round. Eye is a big name, but she isn't a good fighter. This sets up well for Pena.
Fantasy AnalysisThe only thing holding Pena back is her health. After winning The Ultimate Fighter 18 in November 2013, Pena suffered a serious knee injury that cost her over 17 months worth of action. She returned in April and destroyed Milena Dudieva, picking up a first-round TKO win. Eye is a good fight for Pena - she's a well known name, but it's a fight that Pena should win as long as she's healthy. Pena can't beat Ronda Rousey, but she has the talent and charisma to be a potential title challenger at some point down the line.