Raquel Pennington made a successful UFC debut in November. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 winner Julianna Pena has pulled out of a planned meeting with Jessica Andrade at UFC 171 due to injury.
UFC officials confirmed the development Wednesday night via Twitter following an initial report from MMAJunkie.com. Andrade will instead face Pena’s castmate Raquel Pennington at the March 15 event, which takes place at American Airlines Arena in Dallas and is headlined by a welterweight title bout between Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks.
Pena, 24, earned four straight victories to start her career but suffered back-to-back defeats prior to joining the cast of “TUF 18.” The bantamweight bested Shayna Baszler and avenged her 2012 loss to Sarah Moras during the show’s production, earning a spot opposite Jessica Rakoczy at the live finale. “The Venezuelan Vixen” stopped Rakoczy on Nov. 30, pounding out the former boxer with just one second remaining in the first round.
Andrade, 22, has won three of her last four fights. Though “Bate Estaca” was stopped by former title challenger Liz Carmouche in her Octagon debut, she responded with a one-sided win over Rosi Sexton at UFC Fight Night 30, battering the Brit for the better part of 15 minutes this past October.
In Pennington, Andrade faces a seven-fight pro who fought her way to the “TUF 18” semifinals before falling to Rakoczy. However, “Rocky” was successful in her official Octagon debut, scoring a unanimous decision over cast mate Roxanne Modafferi at the live finale.