A potential UFC bantamweight championship title-eliminator will play out at UFC Fight Night Columbus on March 28th. as perennial contenders, Aspen Ladd, and, Julianna ‘The Venezuelan Vixen’ Peña face-off.
The Ultimate Fighter victor, Peña, was drafted into a short-notice with inaugural flyweight champion, Nicco Montano last July, replacing an injured Sara McMann on her way to a unanimous decision victory. The matchup was the 30-year-old’s first in just over two years, as she took a hiatus from the sport due to pregnancy. Aspen Ladd on the other hand, rallied against former Invicta FC champion, Yana Kunitskaya recently to grab a third-round knockout victory, after a quickfire defeat to former featherweight gold-holder, Germaine de Randamie. News of the pairing was first reported by ESPN staff writer, Brett Okamoto.
The tricky California native, Ladd, has experienced a timely rise to the upper-echelon of the 135-pound division, due to some really notable victories. Wins have come for the 24-year-old against the likes of, Lina Lansberg, Tonya Evinger, Sijara Eubanks (x2) and the previously mentioned, Kunitskaya. Her opening minute defeat to de Randamie in her first main event for the promotion marked her first professional defeat. Ladd currently sits behind de Randamie at the #2 rank at bantamweight.
For Washington native, Peña, it’s an opportunity to rebuild a head of steam toward championship gold aspirations. Before her first UFC defeat to current flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko back in 2017, Peña had lodged victories over Jessica Rakoczy, Milana Dudieva, Jessica Eye, and Cat Zingano aided with her grappling expertise. Last summer’s short-notice decision triumph over Montano, warranted Peña reinstation in the official bantamweight rankings, where she currently occupies the #4 rank.
UFC Fight Night Columbus takes place on March 28th. from the Nationwide Arena in Ohio, and is headlined by a monstrous meeting of heavyweight contenders as Francis Ngannou meets Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The event co-headliner is contested between Brazils, Raphael Assuncao, and former bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt. Making up the rest of the card is a heavyweight pairing of Greg Hardy and Yorgan de Castro. In an affair at 205-pounds, Sam Alvey will meet with Khalil Rountree Jr. In bantamweight action, Louis Smolka returns to action as he’s paired with Davey Grant. a matchup of strawweights will also take place as Tecia Torres battles against Mizuki Inoue. Randy Costa will also feature in a 135-pound clash, as he meets with Martin Day.