Following an over two-year layoff from MMA, Julianna Pena is back on short notice to take on Sara McMann at UFC Sacramento.
Following the announcement that Sara McMann is out of her fight with former flyweight champion Nicco Montano, Damon Martin of MMA Fighting reported that Julianna Pena is likely to step in on short notice at UFC Sacramento. Pena has been out of the sport since January of 2017, following the birth of her child. Her last bout was a loss to Valentina Shevchenko in a title eliminator bout.
Prior to that, Pena was undefeated in the UFC. Having gone 4-0 and winning season 18 of the Ultimate Fighter, there were high hopes for the Venezuelan. During her time with the promotion, she has defeated names such as Cat Zingano, Jessica Eye, and Shayna Bazler, with the Bazler fight taking place on The Ultimate Fighter. When Pena took her extended hiatus, she was ranked second at 135 pounds.
Pena’s opponent for the July 13 show in Sacramento is the former flyweight champion, Nicco Montano. Montano is also coming off a long layoff of her own, Montano has been out of action since December 2017, when she defeated Roxanne Modafferi to become the inaugural flyweight champion. Montano was then scheduled to face Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228, but had to pull-out on the day of weigh-ins due to weight-cutting issues.
Following this, Montano was put on the shelf for six months due to a USADA drug test failure, stemming from a positive ostarine test. It was said that the positive test was due to “supplement contamination,” leading to a short suspension. The fight with Pena is set to be Montano’s first fight at bantamweight since January of 2017.
UFC Sacramento is set to take place at the Golden 1 Center, in Sacramento, California. The ESPN+ card is set to be headlined by a bantamweight title eliminator between Aspen Ladd and Germaine De Randamie.