The Ultimate Fighting Championship may have lost a significant main card matchup on its return trip to Columbus, Ohio, in March.
On Friday, MMA Junkie reported that Julianna Pena (9-3) suffered an injury and has been forced to pull out of her bantamweight tilt against Aspen Ladd (9-1). According to the report, Ladd will not be receiving a replacement opponent, and instead the promotion will be rescheduling their bout at a later date. The two were set to meet at UFC on ESPN 8 in Columbus, Ohio, on March 28.
Pena last competed in July 2019, where she captured a unanimous verdict over former flyweight champ Nicco Montano. The winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 has emerged victories in all but one of her six trips to the cage since her organizational debut in 2013, with the lone defeat a submission to flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko. "The Venezuelan Vixen" has seen her career filled with lengthy periods of inactivity due to injury and pregnancy, and this injury sets her back once more.
Ladd bounced back from her first career defeat in emphatic fashion by battering Yana Kunitskaya in the third frame of their UFC on ESPN 7 contest in December. Prior to that victory, Ladd suffered a shocking 16-second defeat to Germaine de Randamie that she appealed and nearly saw overturned by the California State Athletic Commission due to a perceived early stoppage. The 25-year-old from California has finished her opponent in seven of her nine career wins, and the lone fighter to ever reach the scorecards with her was Sijara Eubanks on two separate occasions.
UFC on ESPN 8 takes place at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, on March 28. The event will be headlined by a potential heavyweight title eliminator between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. In the co-main attraction, Raphael Assuncao takes on Cody Garbrandt at bantamweight.