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UFC fighter Pena charged with robbery, battery

UFC fighter Luis Pena is being accused of punching his girlfriend and breaking her cell phone.

Pena was arrested last Friday in Coral Springs, Florida on charges of robbery by sudden snatching, battery and criminal mischief, per a spokesperson for the Coral Springs Police Department. The fighter remains in Broward County Detention Center, awaiting transport to Palm Beach County. He cannot be bonded out until transport.

Robbery by sudden snatching is a potential felony in Florida. Pena’s attorney Daniel Martinez told ESPN that Pena “under no circumstances committed a robbery” and the entire situation is “much ado about nothing.” Martinez is hoping to get Pena transported to Palm Beach County as soon as possible, so he can get in front of a judge there and potentially be granted bond.

According to a domestic violence probable cause affidavit, obtained Wednesday by ESPN from the Boca Raton Police Department, Pena and his girlfriend had an altercation June 14. The woman told police that Pena accused her of looking at other men on Instagram, then grabbed her iPhone and threw it down on the ground, causing it to shatter and break.

After that, Pena and the woman got into a physical fight, which included pushing and punching each other, she told officers. The woman ended up with a small laceration on the left side of her lip, as well as scratches and redness on her knuckles. At the time, the woman told cops that that Pena had also taken her home keys, but she ended up finding them later.

The Boca Raton police received an anonymous tip later that night that Pena was going back to his girlfriend’s home to kill her, according to the affidavit. The caller added that Pena was suicidal and had a gun and a knife. About 30 minutes later, Boca Raton police officers were able to get Pena on the phone. Pena refused to provide a statement and said he would get a lawyer with the purpose of meeting at the Boca Raton Police Department at another time, per the affidavit.

On June 15, officers returned to the woman’s home for a follow-up interview, according to the affidavit. The woman said Pena punched her on the top of her head while she was asking him to leave the home and she had a lump there. However, the woman refused to let police see the alleged injury. When asked about Pena having access to firearms, she said a few weeks prior Pena brandished a gun while talking to her via FaceTime and threatened to kill himself. Per the affidavit, the woman was upset that Pena had not been arrested yet, abruptly ended the interview and slammed her door shut.

Martinez said that Pena is “innocent until proven guilty” and he does not believe any parties involved want to see Pena in jail. He said Pena has been open on social media about his mental-health issues and is in the process of getting assistance with that.

“Luis, as many other fighters do, need help and not punishment,” Martinez said. “Fighters have a very difficult job. They get hit in the head. We don’t know what the long-term effects are.”

Martinez said he is very frustrated, because Pena remains held without bond in Broward County, awaiting transport to Palm Beach County since last Friday. While Pena was arrested in Broward County, the arrest warrant was issued in Palm Beach County and Pena will need to see a judge there before being granted bail, Martinez said.

Transporting inmates takes longer than usual right now due to coronavirus-related delays, he said. If Pena was arrested in Palm Beach County, Martinez said he’d very likely already be out of jail.

“There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be out on bond right now,” Martinez said.

UFC executive vice president and chief business officer Hunter Campbell told ESPN last Saturday that the promotion is looking into the situation and will not book Pena into a fight until it gets more information. Campbell said the UFC has been aware that Pena has been going through mental-health and substance-related issues.

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