Many MMA fans bemoan the depth of the women’s bantamweight roster, since Rousey has essentially ‘cleaned out’ the division. ‘Rowdy’ has now defeated seven of the top ten women in the official UFC rankings, and done so convincingly.
Step forward, Julianna Peña.
Following her win over Jessica Rakoczy at the Ultimate Fighter Finale, Peña was expected to face Jessica Andrade in March of 2014. Unfortunately, Peña was forced to pull out of the bout after suffering an injury to her right knee.
She suffered the injury while grappling in training, ultimately damaging her ACL, MCL, LCL and meniscus. The injury kept Peña out of action for the rest of 2014, halting any kind of successful run inside the Octagon.
After a year away from the sport, Peña returned to face Milana Dudieva in April of 2015. ‘The Venezuelan Vixen’ won the fight via TKO in the first round and earned a ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus, in the process.
Many still feel that Peña is too ‘green’ to be a challenger to the Rousey throne, however in a division that lacks contenders, Peña may be thrust into a title fight sooner than expected.
One of the many arguments as to why Pena should not be pushed into a title fight so soon is the lack on top 10 fighters on her resume. A win over #6 ranked Jessica Eye this weekend at UFC 192 should quiet the naysayers.
This is a massive opportunity for Pena, and Eye is the perfect measuring stick for her at this time. If she can win, she will likely end up heading toward a top contender’s bout or even fighting for the title.