Five Questions With Luis 'Violent Bob Ross' Pena

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Most of the world was introduced to Luis Peña on The Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated. Despite his relatively early exit from the show due to injury, the man they call ‘Violent Bob Ross’ has continued to build a steady and devoted following. It started with his UFC debut, which earned him a Performance of the Night bonus, and continued with his legendary social media presence in which he oscillates from funny and lighthearted to gritty and candid, openly discussing his journey reconnecting with his biological family members. Peña now calls California home, relocating after his big win to be near American Kickboxing Academy where he trains alongside lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and double champ Daniel Cormier.

Peña now gets the change to avenge his experience on TUF by taking on the winner, Mike Trizano, to kick off the main card of Fight Night Denver on Saturday. We spent a few minutes with one of the true gentlemen in the game to talk about the last few whirlwind months.

UFC: You’ve had a pretty eventful 2018--including meeting some of your biological relatives--even since you’ve been here in Colorado. How did that come about?

LP: It was really interesting. I was moving from St. Louis to California, driving out there in a U-Haul with my best friend. We stopped in Colorado Springs to stay with his brother for a couple days and just kinda rest. We were literally just sitting on his couch, and I was going through my emails, and I see an email from I’d gotten an Anscestry DNA kit for Christmas last year, and [the email] said I had a new DNA match. I go to click on the DNA match, and I like, start to see all the DNA markers that I really couldn’t explain, because I already met my biological mother, I met here when I was 19. I’m scrolling down the information, and gives you an estimated relationship, and it said “parent-child.” That’s when I took a step back and was like “Oh my God!” I looked at my best friend and said “Man, I think I found my biological dad.” He was speechless, too. That’s one of the biggest things about my life. And all of a sudden, I’m talking to this dude on the phone. After 25 years, I met my biological father. I didn’t really know what to think about it. It’s something I really haven’t been able to wrap my head around.

UFC: With your injury, The Ultimate Fighter obviously didn’t end the way you wanted it to. Mentally, how did you get through the rest of the show while all your fellow cast mates were still competing?

LP: I can’t lie, that was one of the hardest experiences to go through mentally and emotionally, because I felt in my mind that I was destined to win that. But there’s actually something Daniel Cormier told me right when he got back from taking care of business in Louisiana, and it really kinda helped me get through it. He told me: “You know son, winning The Ultimate Fighter wasn’t in your destiny. It wasn’t for you, and that’s only because there’s much bigger and greater things coming in the future.” And those words ring true to me every day. The Ultimate Fighter championship, it wasn’t for me, because I’m going to be UFC champion. I’m gonna be one of the greatest of all time.

UFC: You’ve got the best nickname in the game, and a completely unique style. There’s no one else like you. What’s it like to walk down the street now and have people say “Hey, Violent Bob Ross!”?

LP: That’s probably the best part of the experience of being in the UFC and being this “public figure.” Just a couple years ago, I was that same guy. I was a huge fan. To have people recognize me, to have people support me that don’t know me from Adam…it means the world to me. Especially when people want to come up and get pictures. I try to accommodate every single person that comes up to me that asks for an autograph, that asks for a picture, that just wants to shake my hand, because I know what that meant to me when I was that person.

UFC: Speaking of being a fan, you’re fighting on the historic 25th Anniversary card. Do you remember the first UFC fight you ever saw?

LP: Without a doubt. The very first UFC fight I saw, the fight that told me maybe I could do this one day, was back in ’06, Anderson Silva’s debut against Chris Leben at Pearl at The Palms. And yes, this is a huge card to be on, but my UFC debut meant so much more to me because I was walking in the footsteps of one of my heroes, Anderson Silva. I was getting to make my debut in the same venue at Pearl, and it was everything to me. And then I go out there and get the finish in the first round and get the performance bonus, just like he did, I think it speaks volumes for what my career is going to be.

UFC: After this fight we’ll be at the end of the year. What does 2019 look like for you?

LP: If everything goes my way and everything goes right on Saturday night, I feel as though 2019 is going to be big for me. I’d like to be able to take a little time off to spend time with my family and rest a little bit, but I’d like to get back in it as soon as February or March, keep the ball rolling, keep the momentum rolling, and just try to climb the ranks.

Watch Past Fights

Saturday, July 11
10/7PM ET/PT -- 12PM AEsT Jul 12


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