At last night’s UFC 169 post-fight media scrum in Chicago, Illinois, the question of Julianna Pena and her recently sustained knee injuries was raised as a subject.
For the most part, UFC President Dana White didn’t have much to add regarding the women’s “Ultimate Fighter” season 18 bantamweight tournament winner, however, he did stick to his original version of the story, as told to him by Pena. As such, White still believes that what happened to Pena was an assault.
As White stated in comment:
“The worst knee injury I’ve ever heard of ever in the sport. And you hear about those types of knee injuries in football.
Apparently, when she came into the gym and again, she was hysterical when I talked to her; crying. She just won “The Ultimate Fighter”, she’s ranked number ten in the world and she was training in her gym, and one of her training partners, a guy, was saying to her ‘oh, you’re wearing you’re Ultimate Fighter shirt, we’re real scared; like basically talking smack to her and then attacked her; jumped on her back, started cranking her neck and the way that she fell, her knee blew out.
The most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard in my life. A hear-and-a-half to two years she’ll be out. I told her, leave that disgusting gym and go somewhere else, with new coaches, training partners, whatever. That’s all I know.”
Again, in reiterating the events and as told to him by Pena, White’s story is consistent with his first telling of it. And again, the facts that can be established so far are as follows:
That Pena was wearing her ‘TUF’ t-shirt, that something was said about it to her, and that a fighter was “talking smack” to Pena (Mr. X) and that fighter (Mr. X) appears to be the teammate that caused Pena's injuries. Further, the injury was sustained while grappling and from a standing position, with Mr. X taking Pena’s back and subsequent to that, her knee blew out.
Beyond that, it has yet to be established whether or not it was in a grappling match or spar, whether or not Pena knew that her back was about to be taken (as in knew she was in a spar), or whether or not Pena was actively trying to defend a grapple, with an executed move that went badly; actively involved.
Speculatively, and from what fans understand of the incident, it’s beginning to appear as if Pena’s knee gave out prior to her hitting the mat. If so, it rules out the possibility of Mr. X having taken Pena to the ground and damaging her leg there, and as a result of an overzealous application of a leg lock or other move.
As to who Mr. X is, White said he’s unaware of the fighter’s identity; “I don’t know who it was.”
When MMA reporter Ariel Helwani told White that “Sik-Jitsu’s” coach had given him a different version of what had happened to Pena at the gym, White remarked, “I bet he does. I don’t blame him.”
However, White stuck to his guns and reinforced his stance, “It sounds like assault to me, but how do you consider it assault in a gym?”
In terms of Sik-Jitsu’s coach and what he had to say regarding the incident, he told Helwani the following and quoting Helwani:
“He was coming to the gym, she’s a very aggressive type of trainer, she trains three times a day and she didn’t warm up. She was training with these guys, these couple guys, didn’t do the proper warm-ups, he wasn’t there to oversee it and then she severely injured herself.
For the record, he wasn’t blaming her. He was saying that those guys should have known better, because she’s such a eager beaver that they should have waited for him to be there to make sure she was ready to start training. That’s what he (the coach) told me.”
To that, White commented, “completely different story then what she told me; somewhere in the middle lies the truth, you know what I mean.”
In terms of what Helwani is telling us that Sik-Jitsu’s coach said, it’s not helpful and perhaps even problematic.
First, the coach wasn’t there. That’s obvious. As such, this is another unsubstantiated statement from the club and just more hearsay; as is the same with White’s statement.
Beyond that, the coach’s statement raises some flags.
The coach raised the issue of Pena’s warming up, however, Pena is not some newbie to training and not only knows that she has to warm-up prior to training, but more importantly, probably knows how to do it and without the need of her coach overseeing it. To raise that as a point (of defense) seems like a reach.
Referring to Pena as an “aggressive type of trainer” might be taken by some as a specious attempt by the club to lay the blame for this squarely and solely at Pena’s own feet, and not as a result of Mr. X’s actions.
Further, the coach has now introduced a third person into the scenario, as he referred to “these couple guys.” If that’s the case, then the incident involves Pena, Mr. X and now a ‘Mr. Y’, with Mr. Y being a (possible) witness to what really transpired. Yet, Mr. Y has yet to speak. It begs the question why?
Further still, when it’s stated that “those guys should have known better”, the question becomes what exactly should they have known better? That it’s unwise for a strong male “power pellet” to jump the back of a female fighter and crank her neck back, particularly if she’s doesn’t know that it’s about to happen? Agreed, that would be reasonable that they should have known not to do it. As such, and if it's reasonable that Mr. X should have "known better" then where does that leave the fighter in terms of his responsibility for what happened to Pena? It also flies in the face of the coach's contention that Pena injured herself. For how could she have done so (be responsible) if it was Mr. X who should have known better?
Sadly, fans have been reading about this for nearly a week and still, no one from Sik-Jitsu that actually saw the incident unfold and can state exactly what lead up to it, and how it occurred, has come forward and made their account known.
As there must have been someone other than Mr. X there when Pena was injured (Mr. Y for one), it strikes as odd that they wouldn’t speak up. That is, if indeed, their account is similar to that of the club’s, which is that it was an accident, and dissimilar to that of Pena’s, which is to say that she was attacked.