UFC Denver: Violent Bob Ross Explains the Benefits of Training at AKA

Luis Pena, better known at this point as Violent Bob Ross, doesn’t mind if you know him as VBR. He’s just itching to show the confidence he’s gained training at AKA.

Denver, CO — For Violent Bob Ross, properly known as Luis Pena, Saturday night might be the real TUF 27 Finale. It’s nothing personal — in fact, he told reporters including Cageside Press at UFC Denver’s media day that he considers opponent Mike Trizano a friend. Yet it’s a chance to prove that he would have won the show, had he not been injured early on in the season. Now, having joined the famed AKA gym, VBR is extolling the virtues of training there.

His first fight in the UFC, on the TUF 27 Finale, made joining American Kickboxing Academy possible. A decisive win over Richie Smullens earned Pena (5-0) a bonus that was life changing. “That meant everything for me. It really changed my life. I was able to get the Performance of the Night bonus, and with that $50,000 I legitimately changed my life. I was able to take that and make the move from St. Louis to California, move to AKA permanently, and it’s been history ever since.”

That’s quite the change of fate in just a short amount of time. Now, on Saturday at UFC Denver, just four months later, Violent Bob Ross gets to show what he’s learned while training with one of the best teams in MMA.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the benefits and payoffs of training at AKA,” he explained to the media on Thursday. “I legitimately was one of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s main training partners, main sparring partners for his last fight against Conor McGregor. You can’t pay for an experience like that.”

When it comes to the champion, “Khabib is one of if not the— he’s the greatest lightweight in the world, probably one of the greatest of all time,” Pena estimated. “At the end of the day, the mentality that I have, I felt as though I did well enough that I could gain confidence through it. I gained confidence in my rounds with Khabib. I looked at it as though him, Manap, Islam Makhachev, they threw things at me that no one else in the business is going to throw at me. I feel prepared for anybody that steps in the cage with me at this point.”

On a lighter note, asked whether he thought fans knew his actual name over Violent Bob Ross, Pena was amused. “No not at all. Legitimately, there are people who think my name is Bob.” It doesn’t bother the lanky lightweight, however. “It’s all good. I never really thought I would be one of those Rampage or GSP kind of guys, but hey, I’ll take it. VBR, Violent Bob Ross, if that’s what you want to call me, that’s what you want to know me as, I’m good.”