Raquel Pennington claimed the vacant women’s bantamweight title at UFC 297 in a hard-fought unanimous decision victory against Mayra Bueno Silva. Despite her victory, Pennington faced criticism for engaging in extended clinch battles, leading to boos from fans and disapproval from UFC CEO Dana White and her corner.
In the post-fight press conference, Pennington revealed that she had a challenging day of preparation, waking up feeling sick and questioning everything. Despite her physical condition, she displayed a champion mindset, sought support from her coaches and sports psychologist, and found motivation in seeing her daughter. Pennington went on to win four of five rounds on all three judges’ scorecards, securing a 10-8 in one round.
Looking ahead, Pennington expressed her desire for a matchup with Julianna Peña, her long-time feud from their time on “The Ultimate Fighter.” Peña, originally targeted for the vacant title fight but sidelined due to injury, is a former bantamweight champion. Pennington sees the potential bout as settling a score that dates back to 2013, stating, “I’ve been waiting for that fight for 13 years, whether the title is on the line or not.”
Despite her victory and newfound title, Pennington acknowledged the challenges ahead, emphasizing her desire to stay active while recognizing the need to balance her career with family commitments. At 35, Pennington aims to defend the title a couple of times before considering the conclusion of her fighting career.
This victory marks a significant achievement for Pennington, who made her UFC debut over a decade ago and now holds the bantamweight title after overcoming illness and adversity in her preparation for UFC 297.