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Jessica Penne criticizes Bellator for its handling of female fighters

Bellator, the Viacom-backed MMA promotion, has taken its share of hits recently when it comes to the handling of its female fighters.

Fighter Zoila Gurgel told MMAjunkie’s Ben Fowlkes about how she felt better respected by the all-female promotion, Invicta, compared to her previous promoter, Bellator. MMA fans on the interwebs repeatedly questioned why Bellator shoved top-ranked, 115-pound fighter Jessica Aguilar to an online timeslot rather than featuring her bout on its SpikeTV portion of the broadcast.

Now, Invicta atomweight titleholder Jessica Penne adds her voice to the chorus of criticisms against the company.

Penne tells SI.com that in her May 2009 bout with Tammie Schneider, she broke her hand and struggled to get Bellator to cover her injury.

“I couldn’t get them to take care of my hand,” she says. “I just couldn’t get ahold of anybody ... Everyone is sending me from one place to another. My hand is still messed up from it because it didn’t get proper treatment.”

The bones have now healed but for Penne, the wound is still open.

“I really do not like them,” Penne says, referring to Bellator.

A Bellator official told SI.com that while he did not have information to speak to Penne's case specifically, the promotion has a plan in place to deal with fighter injuries and a team of employees dedicated to handling medical claims.

Penne says her experience with Invicta, which features her in its main event tonight against challenger Michelle Waterson, has been a positive one.

"It’s great to be treated like a professional for the first time,” she says.

-- Melissa Segura

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