UFC contender Julianna Pena announces pregnancy, putting career on hold

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Filed under: News, UFC

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Julianna Pena won’t be returning to the octagon any time soon; the UFC women’s bantamweight contender is pregnant.

Pena (8-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) today revealed that she’s expecting the birth of her first child, and seeing as she obviously can’t fight while pregnant (or shouldn’t, anyway), her MMA career is on hold for the time being (via Instagram):

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Pena, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s bantamweight rankings, hasn’t competed since January. She suffered a second-round submission loss to No. 2-ranked Valentina Shevchenko in UFC on FOX 23’s main event, which marked her first defeat inside the octagon.

In the time since that fight, Pena has moved from her longtime home of Spokane, Wash., to the Chicago area, where she she’s in a relationship with a police offer and father of her child.

Pena did not reveal exactly how far along she is in her pregnancy, but regardless, it’s unlikely she returns to UFC competition until the later portion of 2018.

For more on the UFC schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC's Julianna Pena was 'very, very heartbroken' after loss to Valentina Shevchenko

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Julianna Pena embraced the hurt of her first UFC loss, and after coming out on the other end, she said she’s going to be a better fighter for it.

After starting her octagon tenure with four-straight victories, including winning Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Pena (8-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) ran into a roadblock in the form of top women’s bantamweight contender Valentina Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC).

Pena was not able to hang with Shevchenko during their UFC on FOX 23 main event bout in January. After being tossed around the cage more than once, Pena was caught in a second-round armbar by “The Bullet” and forced to tap out. Shevchenko moved forward and will challenge 135-pound champ Amanda Nunes at UFC 213 in July, leaving Pena behind to reflect on the missed opportunity.

“When you (lose), and you give it your all, it feels like a death,” Pena said today during a fan Q&A ahead of UFC Fight Night 111 in Singapore. “I was very, very heartbroken. I felt like my world came crashing down. I think the most important thing is, you can’t get married to your wins and you can’t get married to your losses. One day you feel like you’re on top of the world then the next day the world is on top of you. You have to take your wins and losses in stride and just keep moving forward.”

Prior to the loss, Pena, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s bantamweight rankings had put together a nice run of performances, with the signature one coming against former title challenger Cat Zingano at UFC 200.

“The Venezuelan Vixen” was confident her momentum would plow through Shevchenko, but was handed a reality check. Even though she originally chalked up the outcome to a comparison that even “Michael Jordan missed shots,” in hindsight, Pena feels she may have put too much on her plate around the time of the most important fight of her career.

Not only did Pena move away from her longtime training home in Washington in order to relocate to Chicago, but she said she didn’t give herself nearly enough time to get acclimated to her new surroundings. Nearly six months have gone by since her previous bout, though, and Pena said she’s used that time put her life in order, as well as recover from some lingering injuries.

“I’ve actually been in physical therapy to get back to training and that’s where my focus has been since January, is just trying to get back into the training room and doing things that I normally do,” Pena said. “I had moved to Chicago in September and going to a city I’ve never been to before and changing my entire camp with my coaches and everything and getting thrown into that mix before the biggest fight of my entire life, was I think a big change.

“I’ve taken this time from January to now to get to know the city, get to know my routes, get to know everything so that when I prepare for my fight next time, I’ll have everything a lot better tuned. I think that’s part of the learning process in mixed martial arts. If you lose, you go back to the drawing board and figure out what went wrong and try again.”

Although Pena doesn’t know when she will return to the octagon, or against whom, she has already mentioned the possibility of a change in weight class. She is currently ranked in the top three at women’s bantamweight, but with the UFC recently introducing a new women’s flyweight division, a drop down is a possibility in Pena’s future.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Auckland Q&A notebook: Pena vs. Nunes, Pedro vs. Latifi, Stann vs. anyone

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – The UFC doesn’t visit New Zealand very often. After all, this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 110 event marks just the second trip the company has made to the island nation, and the first was three years ago.

So when Kiwi UFC fans get a chance to see their favorite fighters up close, they make the most of it, as proven at this weekend’s traditional fan Q&A session.

UFC Fight Night 110 takes place Sunday (but airs live in the U.S. on Saturday due to time difference) at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

One day prior, “The Ultimate Fighter 18” winner Julianna Pena, Australian light heavyweight prospect Tyson Pedro, and former UFC fighter and current commentator Brian Stann stepped on stage and answered everything thrown their way. We’ve featured some of the best moments.

The Q&A started out on a serious note, with the session’s very first question asking whether or not the fighters, including Stann, believed they deserved a bigger piece of the UFC pie, including revenues from broadcasting contracts, as well as sponsors like Reebok.

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Later, the fighters were asked about their next potential fight, and Pedro teased a few intriguing matchups that he’d heard might very well be possible. Meanwhile, Pena didn’t say she had anything lined up but admitted she would have a watchful eye on the UFC 213 headliner between UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Valentina Shevchenko.

Pena also wasn’t afraid to reveal her gameplan for defeating Nunes, who “The Ultimate Fighter 18” winner does find beatable.

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Meanwhile, fans also wanted to know if Stann might be willing to step back inside the octagon. After all, if fellow UFC commentator Dan Hardy has expressed his desire for one more go, could “The All-American” find himself in a similar position.

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Of course, any gathering of MMA fighters that includes questions and answers wouldn’t be complete without addressing the fantasy matchup between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, and today was no different. One answer may surprise – and definitely got a few laughs.

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Things took a turn toward the more bizarre as things wore on, and some of the questions got a little less relevant. But one New Zealander heard Pena admit she had been a little cold thus far in her time in Auckland. After all, it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere. That was all the opportunity this fan needed to drop a little pickup line.

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Finally, all three athletes were asked to share a story about their very first fight – not the first time they stepped into the cage, but the first time they had to hold their hands up and look to defend themselves. The answers got pretty interesting, and it turns out one of the fighters knows a little more about “Fight Club” than you do.

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For more on UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie