The initial prognosis for Julianna Pena’s knee injury was that she could be out for almost two years. Apparently, that was way overstating things.
Pena said on the MMA Roasted podcast this week that she was cleared to resume training Monday and is "way ahead of schedule." The Ultimate Fighter 18 winner tore her ACL, LCL, MCL, meniscus and hamstring in a training accident back in January. Typically, an ACL tear keeps a fighter out of the cage for a little more than a year.
"I’m so stoked, I’m so happy," Pena said. … "We’re looking good."
Pena (5-2) said she’s primed to return to sparring, rolling and hitting mitts. She’s already done the latter two a little bit on her own, she told host Adam Hunter and co-hosts T-Rexx and Jake Ellenberger. Pena did not say when she expected to be back in the Octagon.
Hunter asked her whether she believes she’ll be the one to dethrone undefeated women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
"It’s not an ‘I think,’ it’s an ‘I know,’" Pena said.
Rousey coached against Pena on TUF 18. The two have exchanged barbs in the past and Pena didn’t have many nice things to say on the show about Rousey or her roommates and fellow fighters Jessamyn Duke, Shayna Baszler and Marina Shafir. Pena called the group, which dubs themselves "The Four Horsewomen, "the Four Horsefaces." She also called Duke and Baszler "suckballs," but took it back and said she respected all women fighters.
Pena is also currently shopping around for a new gym. UFC president Dana White urged Pena to leave her Sikjitsu camp in Spokane, Wash., amid controversy about how she ended up injured. Pena has spent time recently at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla., and intimated that could end up being a semi-permanent home. But she never said she was officially leaving Sikjitsu either.
Pena also spoke about Gina Carano potentially getting an immediate title shot against Rousey despite not having fought for five years. Pena is not against the idea as much as some others are.
"Gina Carano is beautiful, Ronda is beautiful," Pena said. "I’d pay money to see that."