When news broke that UFC lightweight Luis Pena had been arrested on June 19th in Coral Springs, FL, details were thin on the ground. The former Ultimate Fighter season 27 competitor was taken into custody by the Coral Springs Police Department, facing charges of “robbery by sudden snatching,” as well as battery and criminal mischief.
ESPN has since obtained records that show those charges stemmed from an apparent June 14th domestic violence incident, involving Pena’s girlfriend of the past year. Reports state that Pena accused his girlfriend of looking at other men on Instagram, after which police records say he took her cell phone and smashed it on the ground. That action appears to be the basis of the robbery charge, which carries a potential felony classification.
That incident apparently led to a physical altercation between the two, from which the alleged victim suffered a cut lip and scrapes on her knuckles. She also later claimed that Pena punched her on the top of the head causing a lump as well, but refused to let police see the injury.
Speaking on behalf of his client, Pena’s attorney Daniel Martinez dismissed the charges facing the longtime AKA fighter.
“An accusation is not worth the piece of paper it’s printed on,” Martinez told MMA Fighting. “Nobody was there. There’s no evidence. It’s just person A’s rendition versus person B’s. … Accusations are accusations. Evidence is evidence.”
“I don’t think anybody wants to see Luis go to jail,” Martinez added, “I think that [people] sometimes have disagreements, misunderstandings, and anybody can say anything about anyone. I can say you punched me in the face. Doesn’t make it true, brother.”
Martinez added also told ESPN that Pena is in need of care, not punishment. The fighter posted about his mental health struggles on Twitter days after the incident is said to have taken place, telling fans that he had “finally gained the strength to get and accept the help I’ve needed for a long time.”
“Luis, as many other fighters do, need help and not punishment,” Martinez said, speaking to ESPN. “Fighters have a very difficult job. They get hit in the head. We don’t know what the long-term effects are.”
According to reports, Pena’s girlfriend told officers that the fighter had also recently threatened to kill himself during a FaceTime video chat. In the time between the initial alleged altercation and Pena’s arrest, police reportedly received an anonymous tip that Pena was suicidal and in possession of both a gun and a knife, and planned to return to his girlfriend’s house to kill her.
Because Pena was arrested in Broward County rather than Palm Beach, where the incident reportedly took place, it appears that he is still awaiting a transfer between facilities, after which Martinez told MMA Fighting that he expects his client will be released on bond. Martinez also stated that he did not expect the alleged victim to press charges and that the case would likely be dismissed following Pena’s release. UFC executive Hunter Campbell told ESPN that Pena would not be booked for a fight as promotion continues to look into the situation.
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