The Ultimate Fighter 18 winner Julianna Pena underwent successful knee surgery in Los Angeles on Friday and is expected to make a full recovery.
Pena was scheduled to face Jessica Andrade at UFC 171 on March 15, but was forced out of the fight when she tore her ACL, MCL, LCL and meniscus while preparing for the fight.
The 24-year-old released a statement via her facebook page on Friday thanking the doctors, the UFC, and her friends and family.
“Surgery was a success! I was freaking out the whole time thinking I wasn't going to wake up for provoking death so much, but I'm alive,” she wrote. “I want to give a special thanks to the doctors that operated on me, particularly Dr. Kvitney, here in LA. Dana put me in the best hands for surgery; they're confident i will make a full recovery in due time.
“I would to send out a huge Thank you to Dana White and the UFC for making this successful surgery a possibility. And THANK YOU to everyone who has sent me prayers and well wishes. Your guys support is so meaningful and beautiful to me. No kidding it's the reason why I keep moving forward w my fighting career. I fight for me, but I also fight for you guys too,” she continued. “I want to be remembered as a skilled fighter and without my family and fans, (my friends), that wouldn't be possible. So THANK YOU everyone who has been supporting me through this difficult time. It's humbling and I truly appreciate it!”
There was some controversy surrounding the initial details of how the injury happened – with UFC president Dana White, and Pena's coach, Rick Little, at odds over the details – but Pena, thus far, has been fairly quiet about the incident.
Although earlier this week, she posted on Facebook, “I wouldn't have become The First Female Ultimate Fighter Winner without my team and my gym.”
Pena became the first female winner of The Ultimate Fighter on Nov. 30, 2013, by defeating Jessica Rakoczy by technical knockout in the closing seconds of the opening round. Her recovery could keep her sidelined through 2015.
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