We reported earlier this week that TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena suffered a serious knee injury earlier this week in training at the Sik-Jitsu camp in Washington that could leave her out of action for up to two years, but since then there’s been conflicting reports about how it actually happened.
UFC President Dana White set the cat amongst the pigeons when he first announced the news, claiming that Pena had been “attacked” at the gym.
“It’s the worst injury I’ve ever heard of, ever, in this sport, and you hear about those types of injuries in football,” White said at a UFC 169 media sit-down earlier in the week. “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.”
However, Pena’s coach, Rick Little, had a different version of events, claiming that Pena had failed to warm-up properly and suffered the injury, which resulted in her tearing her ACL, MCL, LCL and meniscus along with her hamstring, as a result of an unsupervised training session.
Since then the gym’s two highest profile fighters, former TUF stars Michael Chiesa and Sam Sicilia.
“Pena was never ‘attacked’ by some guy,” Chiesa said in a statement to MMAfighting.com. “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.
“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.”
Sicilia was also keen to stress that it wasn’t an assault.
“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.”
Incidentally, for anyone wondering who this 135lber was, Rick Little confirmed on Twitter that it was Josh ‘Juggy’ Gow who currently holds a 3-0 record and has been a training partner of Pena’s for some time.
It should also be noted that Little also posted a picture of Pena back at the gym on crutches, which suggests that perhaps things have cooled down a little, and at least for the time being, she hasn’t taken White’s suggestion to leave the gym.
Little also offered the following suggestion as to how the conflicting reports emerged about what happened.
“She was in the emergency room hysterical,” Little told a fan on Twitter. “She felt like it was on purpose at the time. She was in shock while talking to Dana.”
However, so far the only two people who can really saw what happened, Pena and Gow, have opted not to speak out in public regarding their version of events.