Former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Julianna Pena has been cleared to return to action by the UFC. The company announced today that it has completed its investigation on an incident that saw Pena assault a business owner and taken to jail.
In late December of 2015 Pena was arrested for assaulting two employees at a local bar in Spokane, Washington. Pena and teammate Josh Gow tried entering a the bar Zola after it had closed. Gow had gotten into an earlier altercation and was bloodied. According to reports both Pena and Gow were intoxicated and tried forcing their way into the bar. When staff would not let them in Pena kicked two employees in the groin. Pena was charged with two counts of simple assault and spent 12 hours in jail.
Citing the new Fighter’s Code of Conduct the UFC withheld Pena from any fights until the legal matter was cleared. The company released an official statement regarding Pena’s return:
“UFC announced today that an investigation into allegations of assault by UFC competitor Julianna Pena is now complete. Pena recently came to a resolution with the Prosecutor’s Office in Spokane County, Washington. The resolution was thoroughly reviewed by Campbell & Williams, a Las Vegas-based law firm hired by UFC to oversee its investigation into the matter.
UFC elected not to schedule Pena for a bout while the legal proceedings were ongoing. Now that the matter has been resolved, Pena is eligible to return to competition in the UFC and will be scheduled for a bout in the near future.
While UFC is supportive of the resolution of Pena’s criminal matter, Pena acknowledges that her actions as a professional athlete should reflect well of her, the sport of mixed martial arts, and the UFC. Consequently, Pena has volunteered to participate in counseling as a condition for her return to the Octagon.”
Pena reached a deal with Spokane city prosecutor’s office that allowed her to avoid jail time. Since she has no previous criminal history she was granted a stipulation in which the charges will be dropped if she avoids any more run-ins with the law.
Pena (7-2) is known as being the first female to ever win a season of the “Ultimate Fighter” but her UFC career has not been as smooth sailing as she might have hoped. After her debut she suffered a severe knee injury that reportedly occurred when she was horsing around with fellow teammates during training. She is a perfect 3-0 inside the octagon but with the training injury and the run-in with the law, Pena has been making headlines more for events outside of the octagon than inside of it.
There is no official word yet on when Pena is expected to return or who she may potentially face.