Several days ago "The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 winner Julianna Pena tore her ACL, MCL, LCL, Meniscus and hamstring, suffering what her coach Rick Little said was the most horrific injury he had ever seen. UFC president Dana White spoke with her and reports she will be out for two years.
White was also highly critical words of the gym, Spokane, Washington's Sik-Jitsu Fighting Systems under the tutelage of Rick Little. Other fighters from the gym include Michael Chiesa and Sam Sicilia.
"What happened to @VenezuelanVixen at "her gym" is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard," tweeted White. "Ranked #10 out for 2 years. #leavethatgymnow."
There are two conflicting accounts of what happened.
According to one telling, the injury happened during an overly aggressive grappling training session withJosh Gow, a 5' 5" 135 lb pro fighter, done with minimal warm up. Pena's knee locked up on the mat in an exchange and hyper-extended, which caused the knee to buckle underneath her.
However, White offered a starkly different account, as related to him by a tearful Pena.
“That’s so far from the story she told me right after it happened when she was hysterically crying,” said White. “Completely opposite. … Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. You know what I mean?”
“She was training in her gym and one of her training partners, a guy, was saying to her, ‘Oh you’re wearing your Ultimate Fighter shirt, we’re real scared. He was talking smack to her and then basically attacked her.”
White said the male jumped on her back while she was standing and cranked on her neck. The combination of weight and pressure apparently caused her leg to buckle horribly.
“The most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” said White.
“I told her, ‘Leave that disgusting gym and go somewhere else.' New coaches, new training partners. Whatever.”
“It sounds like assault to me. But how do you consider it assault in a gym?"
For his part, Little put the blame squarely on Pena.
"I'll give u a hint," he tweeted. "She's crazy and has long hair."
Sicilia flatly denied that what happened around the injury constituted an assault, and referenced her sex in trying to explain what happened.
"No, she wasn't assaulted," Sicilia told Bleacher Report. "I guess she was at the gym, just lifting, and she went from there to go grapple. I don’t know if she didn’t warm up or what her deal was, but the guy she goes with, he’s one of those little 35 pounders, and I guess they were just training, and he had her up against the cage and then jumped on her back to get his hooks in. I think she went for a switch or something, and it was just bad. He’s a little power pellet, you know? So, he’s a little buff guy. I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard it from everybody—what happened. It definitely wasn’t assault or anything like that."
"I feel like we kind of got a girl thrown in the mix, and it's kind of hard to do the right things with her. With a bunch of guys, you can go as hard as you want. Obviously, you don’t follow up if you clip somebody, but we get after it. That’s why she’s tough, too, though. We’ve just never really dealt with girls at that gym."
"I guess, obviously, we're dealing with a girl at our gym, but sometimes it didn't feel like that. Sometimes, I see her get dolled up, and I think, 'Holy crap! She is a girl.' She comes in, and she gets after it and starts throwing dudes around."
"I went and saw Julie after it happened; I brought a movie and hung out. She’s devastated. It’s just so emotional still. It wasn’t like he grabbed a submission and wouldn’t let go or anything like that. They’re the same size, so him jumping on her back—I don’t get how that happens, but it wasn’t like she just walked in the door and somebody 'cannonballed' on her or something weird...I really feel terrible for her. She was excited for the fight, and she was doing the right things. Even since the show, she had changed things and become a more professional fighter instead of just some girl who likes beating people up."
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Chiesa sent MMAFighting's Ariel Helwani a statement, and like Sicilia said what happened should not be characterized as an assault.
Pena was never "attacked" by some guy. She was training with a 135er that she trains with on a regular basis. He wasn't talking s--- to her for wearing a TUF shirt, and if he was, it was light-hearted gym humor. They were rolling and he went for a move that he's hit on her a thousand times before and it just happened.
Nobody is to blame, it was a training accident. Just like Dominick Cruz. Everyone knows how hard she is to train with cause she's so damn tough. She only has one female partner that can somewhat challenge her. Even on the show, she was training with guys on her team and, correct me if I'm wrong, they made a point to say how tough she is. She's Cyborg-esque, I guess you could say, minus the PEDs.
Were a very close knit team here in Spokane, she was training with someone that she's gone all the way to Canada to corner. She's held this guy's child, they are very close. This guy wasn't some attacker or whatever the hell she said. This whole thing is tearing our team apart.
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