This Friday night, eight-fight UFC veteran and TUF 27 contestant, Luis Pena (9-3), makes his return to the cage in the main event at Titan FC 76.
Pena is a 22-fight veteran of pro and amateur MMA who was born in Italy and raised in Arkansas. The state champion wrestler got off to a hot start in 2014 as he kicked off his amateur career. After making the move to go pro and scoring dominant finishes in his first four bouts, he came across a flier for TUF 27 tryouts while cutting weight for a boxing fight. The flier came as a sign for him to take the next step in his MMA career and make the extended trip to Las Vegas. Following a victory in his first fight on the show, he suffered an injury forcing him out of competition for the remainder of the season. Pena was fortunate enough to be given a shot on the show's live season finale in which he secured a first-round submission victory. After that day in 2018, it was clear the UFC had a bright talent in its new lightweight prospect.
Seven fights later, it all looked up for Pena, who was just entering his prime. However, back in June of 2021 he had a run in with the law forcing him to focus on his life outside the cage. Just five months later, he got caught up again leading to his release from the UFC. Throughout the entirety of the matter, Pena has repeatedly pleaded his innocence. With that being said, his mind is focused on the future rather than the past.
“The thought of losing everything does seep into my mind,” he explained. “I have to move past it and focus on the future.”
The future for Luis Pena is relatively uncertain. Although he’s proven he has the talent to compete in a major organization, he knows he’ll have to work his way back up. There is a big question mark in his path and this is something that sparks anxiety. He feels that time has been an asset to his future as he’s in a better situation now than he was in the recent past. Throughout all this, his goal remains the same; to be a world champion one day.
“I have no idea what’s in store. I had no idea this time last year that I’d be in the situation I am now,” he said. “I want to get back into a major organization and win a belt.”
Although his forthcoming path doesn’t have a destination, he has business to take care of in the near future. Pena makes his first walk to the cage in over a year as he takes on Hawaii's Zach Zane in Titan FC 76’s main event. In November of last year, he started training at American Top Team Sunrise with the likes of Titan FC lightweight champion, Landon Quinones, Ryan Ocasio and Bobby Casale. Legendary head coach, Roger Krahl, has taken Pena under his wing at the gym. The 28-year-old spoke about his appreciation and admirability of one of the most praised sensei’s in the region.
“He stuck by me when nobody would,” he said. “My style is similar to his, movement and range based.”
In his battle on May 6th, he expects fireworks. He is aware of the style and weapons Zane brings to the table and he feels he has a number of ways to overshadow them. The former state champion wrestler is a slick submission artist that can strike with just about any lightweight on the regional scene. Pena looks to use those skills to his advantage on fight night. He explained how taking this fight on short notice could benefit him as well as his expectations on how it goes down this weekened.
“Fighting on short notice isn't anything to me. I’m a fighter, I fight,” said Pena. “There are a number of ways I can win this fight, I just don't want it to go to the judges.”
Luis Pena lives, eats and breathes MMA; there is nothing else he could see himself doing. The sport allows him to pursue his goals and showcase his skills. He is grateful for being able to wake up everyday and do what he loves. Although this is his first fight outside of the UFC in almost four years, he’s treating it no differently than any other of his previous MMA bouts. At Titan FC 76, expect Pena to put on a show for fight fans across the globe.