The robbery and battery charges pending against UFC lightweight Luis Pena stem from an alleged domestic violence incident on June 14 where his girlfriend of one year told police he punched her and broke her iPhone 11.
When police in Boca Raton, Fla., were called to the woman’s residence on a domestic disturbance call, she said she had just engaged in a physical altercation with Pena after he accused her of looking at other men on Instagram, grabbed her phone and destroyed it, according to a domestic probable cause affidavit in Palm Beach County (Fla.) obtained by MMA Fighting.
Pena, 27, remains in the Broward County (Fla.) main jail as he awaits a bond hearing on a trio of charges that triggered an arrest warrant in Palm Beach County. Because he was arrested in a different county than the alleged crime, his attorney Daniel Martinez told MMA Fighting, his bond hearing has been be delayed. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it has been taking up to 30 days to transfer inmates between jails.
Martinez said he’s working to get Pena a hearing this week and denies the charges against his client.
“An accusation is not worth the piece of paper it’s printed on,” he said. “Nobody was there. There’s no evidence. It’s just person A’s rendition versus person B’s. ... Accusations are accusations. Evidence is evidence.”
Pena is charged with three crimes: robbery by sudden snatching, battery and criminal mischief. The first two are felonies that potentially carry serious jail time. The UFC told ESPN, which first reported the domestic violence affidavit, that the promotion is monitoring Pena’s case and said the fighter has been suffering from substance abuse issues. The week prior to his arrest, Pena said he planned to get help after struggling with mental health issues.
The woman, whose name is redacted in the affidavit, told police she and Pena engaged in a “physical confrontation” on June 14 that left her with a laceration on the left side of her lip and scraped and bloodied bruises. The UFC fighter then allegedly took her house keys and a key fob, prompting her to walk to a nearby gas station to call the police. The woman later recovered the keys she believed were stolen.
Pena wasn’t at the woman’s residence when police responded, and police weren’t able to contact him at the Extended Stay America where she said he was staying. Later that same day, an anonymous caller tipped off the Broward County Sherrif’s office that the UFC fighter was returning to the woman’s residence to kill her and added Pena was “suicidal with a gun and knife in his possession,” the affidavit stated.
Investigators then contacted Pena by phone. He refused to talk to police, per the affidavit, and said he would go to the Broward County police station with an attorney present.
On June 15, investigators did a follow-up interview with Pena’s girlfriend where she accused Pena of striking her on the top of the head during the confrontation, leaving a lump that she covered with a hooded sweatshirt and refused to show to officers, the affidavit said.
The woman told officers that Pena had brandished a handgun and threatened to kill himself several weeks prior when they spoke via Facetime. She was upset that police had not arrested Pena and ended the interview by walking back into her residence and slamming the door, the affidavit said.
That same day, investigators filed the probable cause affidavit and obtained a warrant to arrest Pena, who was picked up in nearby Coral Springs, Fla., and taken to the Broward County jail after an anonymous tip was called in, a public information officer for the Coral Springs Police told MMA Fighting.
Robbery by sudden snatching is classified as a third-degree felony in Florida and is punishable by up to five years and $5,000 in fines. Pena’s attorney expects the case to be dropped after the fighter is bonded out and said it’s “his understanding” the alleged victim does not want to press charges, though he declined further comment.
“I don’t think anybody wants to see Luis go to jail,” Martinez said, “I think that [people] sometimes have disagreements, misunderstandings, and anybody can say anything about anyone. I can say you punched me in the face. Doesn’t make it true, brother.”
Pena most recently fought at UFC Vegas 24, where he earned a split-decision win over Alexander Munoz. That win followed a submission loss to Khama Worthy that was accompanied by a four-plus month suspension and fine for a positive marijuana test.