One fight into promotional tenure, ‘Violent Bob Ross’ already making a splash on the UFC canvas

At the Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale earlier this month, the UFC crowned Brad Katona and Mike Trizano the seasonal tournament winners in their respective divisions. Both men had impressive showings throughout — defeating several tough opponents en route to the crown.

On the night’s undercard, however, a star was born — one who didn’t even compete past the first round of the reality series tournament. Luis Peña (5-0), also known to many as ‘Violent Bob Ross‘ had the MMA world buzzing following his masterpiece of a performance against Ireland’s Richie Smullen.

Entering the lightweight tournament, Peña was one of the favorites to win it all. Unfortunately, following an impressive victory over Jose Martinez in the first round of the competition, medical officials deemed him unable to compete going forwards.

Luckily for the 25-year-old, the UFC inked him to a promotional deal anyways. Finally healthy, Peña wanted to prove to the world just how violent ‘Violent Bob Ross’ can get.

A knockout artist through and through, Peña used a different medium — as he ended up scoring a brilliant submission in the first round. The 6’3″ 155-pounder displayed his full assemblage of arts in the performance, mixing together stand-up and ground work beautifully.

“Everyone saw the fight I had in the house and thought, ‘oh this guy’s just a striker,'” Peña told MMA Today in an interview following the bout. “When they saw me get matched up with Richie, a lot of people thought I’d get exposed or whatever. I got to show I’m a very well-rounded fighter.”

While the performance didn’t come as a surprise to Peña, the response from the fans that followed certainly did. The finale card took place in Las Vegas alongside the stacked UFC 226 pay-per-view as part of International Fight Week. UFC fans from around the world who traveled to see the weekend’s face punching festivities treated Peña like a star.

“I definitely feel [the love],” laughed Peña. “I never realized what International Fight Week was going to be until the day after my fight when I’m trying to go get lunch. I forgot I’m staying across from T-Mobile Arena where all the biggest UFC fans from across the world are descending upon at that exact moment. It took me like an hour to get through part of MGM to go to New York New York. It’s crazy — I never really expected anything like this when I first started fighting, but I guess it’s normal now.”

Mixed martial arts fighters are some of the most fan-friendly athletes on planet earth, and Peña is no different.

“Without a doubt [I love the response],” laughed Peña. “Those are the people that pay the bills essentially. How could you not?”

The thrilling performance has fight fans pleading for more Luis Peña fights. As for what’s next, Peña has his sights set on a specific individual: the Ultimate Fighter 27 lightweight winner, Mike Trizano. Once and for all, he wants to prove who the toughest 155-pounder was from this past season.

“The Madison Square Garden card would be cool, especially if I got to fight Mike Trizano on it, but I really don’t care,” said Peña. “As long as I get to fight. I would like to be back by November or December.”

Following his next fight, regardless of his opponent, Peña plans on dropping to 145-pounds. Six-foot-three is almost unheard of in the featherweight weight class, but Peña doesn’t see the cut as being a problem for him.

“The cut I don’t think would be too bad for me,” explained Peña. “Right now, the cut is really, really easy. It’s just a matter of what I eat the night before that determines how the cut is going to be.”


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Nolan King is a MMA Today senior columnist, writer and renowned MMA insider. Nolan's other freelance work can also be found on FloCombat, Tapology, and MMA Brasil.