Thursday, April 7, 2016

Spokane-based MMA athlete Julianna Pena lands next match for UFC 200

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 4:11 PM

click to enlarge Pena pictured at her Spokane training gym Sik-Jitsu in summer 2014. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Pena pictured at her Spokane training gym Sik-Jitsu in summer 2014.

After being charged with two counts of assault following a bar fight in December, Spokane-based Ultimate Fighting Championship star Julianna Pena is scheduled to get back into the Octagon this summer.

Pena has been on a hiatus for future UFC events while an investigation into those charges was underway. On Monday, the UFC released an official statement that those investigations are now complete. Pena was issued a stipulation order of continuance in the case by Spokane Municipal Court, which means that if she maintains good behavior over the next year the charges will be dismissed.

As such, Pena has been cleared by the mixed martial arts promotion to compete again, and her next match-up has already been scheduled for UFC 200. For that event, she'll face Cat Zingano, ranked No. 3 in the 135-lb. women's bantamweight division. Pena is currently ranked No. 5.

She moved up from the No. 6 spot after Holly Holm's November defeat of long-time champ Ronda Rousey, and has maintained her new rank after Holm's loss in early March to new champ Miesha Tate. With so many shakeups within the top of this division, if Pena is victorious against Zingano, it could lead to her getting a long-desired title shot.

The UFC 200 event scheduled for July 9 is a major milestone for the UFC. The card is stacked with major names, including Ireland's Conor McGregor and Tate's first title defense. Tate is going up against Brazil's Amanda Nunes, ranked No. 4.

According to police reports from the December 20 incident, Pena and her training partner Josh Gow tried to enter downtown bar Zola in the early morning after the bar had already closed for the night. Gow, who trains with Pena at Sik-Jitsu in Spokane — also the home gym for UFC athletes Mike Chiesa, Sam Sicilia and Elizabeth Phillips — had been bloodied in a separate incident and the two were trying to enter so he could clean up in the restroom. When the bouncers at Zola denied them entry, Pena allegedly kicked one of them in the groin.

Pena has been undefeated since returning to the UFC following her year-long recovery from a major knee injury sustained during training. She last fought and won a match against Jessica Eye in October 2015.
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