After winning the vacant women’s bantamweight belt at UFC 297, Raquel Pennington is looking forward to settling her long-standing feud with Julianna Peña, but is also voicing her frustration at the possibility of newcomer Kayla Harrison potentially leapfrogging Peña for a title shot.
Raquel Pennington is buzzing. She’s ready to put her beef with Julianna Peña to bed.
At UFC 297, she snatched the vacant women’s bantamweight title. A unanimous decision win over Mayra Bueno Silva, and boom! She was a champ, after a decade in the UFC. A career highlight, no doubt. But Pennington barely had time to savor the victory. Peña started throwing shade. Now, Pennington’s ready to make her pay.
She told Mayra at the press conference, “Our fists will do the talking.” Same goes for Peña. She can run her mouth all she wants. Pennington thinks Peña’s got a twisted view of their history. But hey, it’s entertaining. It’s creating a narrative. The more Peña yaps, the more she’s selling the fight. Good for her. But when it comes down to it, their fists will do the talking. Pennington’s been waiting for this fight since 2013, back when they were on The Ultimate Fighter. Their paths haven’t crossed until now. But it’s happening, and Pennington can’t wait to shut Peña up.
Pennington and Peña have been at odds since their time on The Ultimate Fighter 18. They were both on Team Miesha Tate. Peña won the show, but they’ve never faced off in the cage. That’s about to change. But nothing’s certain. The bantamweight division just got a big new player. Former PFL champ and two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison. She’s set to fight Holly Holm at UFC 300. If Harrison makes a good first impression, she might get a title shot before Peña. Pennington’s not cool with that.
“Anything can change. I’m not against it, but it’s not fair,” Pennington said about Harrison. She’s frustrated when new athletes cut the line. She’s been that athlete, grinding her way to the top. Nothing was handed to her. There are plenty of athletes who’ve been in the game for a long time. They’re working their butts off every day, trying to earn their shot. Pennington doesn’t think Harrison should get to skip the line just because she’s a big name.
But “deserve” doesn’t always factor into UFC title fight bookings. It might come down to timing. Peña’s still healing from an injury. She’s aiming for a comeback in June or July. But Pennington has other plans.
“I don’t know why she thinks she calls the shots,” Pennington said. “I’m the champion.” She’s thinking of taking some time off. She wants to spend time with her family. Her partner Tecia has some exciting news. So, it’s her time to shine. Pennington just wants to be Mama Bear for a while. She’s thinking maybe August or September for her next fight. Or even later. We’ll see.