Former UFC Strawweight Title Challenger Jessica Penne Gets 18 Month Suspension From USADA

UFC Phoenix Jessica Penne
Credit: Dave Mandel/

UFC fans will not be seeing 115lb fighter Jessica Penne for a while.

Following a failed drug test at UFC Nashville, Jessica Penne will be on the shelf. The former UFC strawweight title challenger has accepted an 18 month suspension stemming from the incident, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced in a press release Friday. The punishment comes jointly from USADA and the Tennessee Athletic Commission. Penne (12-5) last fought in Nashville at UFC Fight Night 108 in a losing effort to Danielle Taylor. In total, she has lost three straight bouts including her 2015 title shot against Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Per Friday’s announcement, Penne tested positive for a non-specified substance in the category of Anabolic Agents, which are prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and the Tennessee Athletic Commission Act of 2016. Despite her sample initially testing negative, “the sample was subsequently flagged for additional analysis due to an increased degree of variability in urinary biomarkers measured in the sample. Sophisticated carbon isotope-ratio mass spectrometry (GC/C/IRMS) analysis confirmed the presence of a synthetic anabolic agent in Penne’s sample.”

According to USADA, “Upon notification of her positive test, Penne immediately identified a supplement she was using at the direction of her physician as the source of the prohibited substance detected in her sample. After a thorough review of the case, including the examination of medical records provided by the athlete, USADA and the Tennessee Athletic Commission accepted Penne’s explanation that her positive test was caused by dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an exogenous anabolic agent, which had been recommended to her by her physician.”

With a potential two year suspension looming, Penne was given six months off as the substance was taken under the direction of her physician. A retroactive therapeutic use exemption, however, was not granted.

Penne’s suspension is retroactive to April 23, 2017, meaning she’s just under halfway through her period of ineligibility.