Dana White: Julianna Pena was ‘attacked’ at gym, led to devastating knee injury

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

NEW YORK – On Wednesday, it was reported that The Ultimate Fighter 18 women’s bantamweight winner Julianna Pena had suffered a knee injury while training for her upcoming fight against Jessica Andrade at UFC 171.

Not only would she be forced from the bout with Andrade, which was to take place on March 15 in Dallas, but there was a tone of egregiousness that came out of the news. Dana White tweeted "What happened to @VenzuelanVixen is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard. Ranked #10 and out 2 years. #leavethatgymnow."

Though the extent of the injury was portrayed as devastating -- a torn ACL, MCL, LCL and meniscus -- it was still unknown what had actually happened at Sik-Jitsu Fighting Systems, where Pena trains in Spokane, Wash. On Thursday, White was asked about the nature of the injury, and how it occurred, during the scrum on UFC 169 media day.

"It’s the worst injury I’ve ever heard of, ever, in this sport, and you hear about those types of injuries in football," he said. "Apparently, when she came into the gym -- and again, she was hysterical when I talked to her, crying -- 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 says that and was talking smack to her and then basically attacked her.

"He jumped on her back, started cranking her neck, and the way she fell her knee blew out. The most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard in my life. A year-and-a-half to two years she’ll be out, and I told her to leave that disgusting gym and go somewhere else with new coaches, new training partners, whatever. And that’s all I know."

White said he wasn’t sure if it was a fighter who injured Pena, but it was a man, and from what he heard it sounded like assault.

"It sounds like assault to me, but how do you consider it assault in a gym? You know what I mean?"

When told that this version of the story differed from that of her coach, Rick Little’s version of what happened -- which was that Pena, in her over-eagerness, didn’t do the proper warm up and was training with some guys before he had arrived to oversee it -- White said that wasn’t what he was told.

"That’s so far from the story she told me right after she was completely hysterical and crying, completely opposite," he said. "Completely different story from what she told me. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth."

Pena is set to undergo surgery to repair her knee next week in Los Angeles.

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