Former Ultimate Fighter winner Julianna Pena has not fought since January 2017, but she’ll be making her return to the Octagon next month at UFC Sacramento.
According to Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com, Pena is stepping up on short notice to replace the injured Sara McMann and take on Nicco Montano in a women’s bantamweight bout at UFC Fight Night 155, which takes place July 13 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.
Julianna Pena (8-3) won TUF 13 back in 2013 with a TKO win over Jessica Rakoczy and went on to beat Milana Dudieva, Jessica Eye and Cat Zingano to emerge as a legitimate title contender in the women’s bantamweight division. She then ran into the destroyer known as Valentina Shevchenko and suffered a submission loss to her in January 2017. Pena has not fought since then owing to the birth of her child, but after over two years away from the Octagon she is ready to return to fighting.
Nicco Montano (4-2) won TUF 26 with a decision win over Roxanne Modafferi back in December 2017, a victory which crowned her the first-ever UFC women’s flyweight champion. However, she has not fought since then due to missing weight and then a USADA violation. After a long layoff and moving up a weight class it will be interesting to see how she fares in her return to the cage. Prior to her weight-cutting issues, it looked like Montano was going to be a top flyweight for a long time, but at 135lbs she may be too small for the division. We’ll soon find out if that’s the case.
The betting odds have not come out for this fight yet, but it will be interesting to see who the oddsmakers favor in what should be a highly-competitive matchup between two solid grapplers at 135lbs.
Who do you think wins, Julianna Pena or Nicco Montano?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/19/2019.