Raquel Pennington Reacts to Sean Strickland’s Offensive Remarks, Asserts Women’s Presence in Sports

Despite disagreeing with Sean Strickland‘s controversial comments ahead of UFC 297, Raquel Pennington chose to focus on her fight and ultimately won the vacant women’s bantamweight title, while Strickland lost his middleweight title.

Raquel Pennington and Sean Strickland didn’t see eye to eye before UFC 297. She tried to stay above the fray, though.

The main event had Strickland defending his middleweight title against Dricus du Plessis. Pennington was up against Mayra Bueno Silva for the vacant women’s bantamweight title. But, all eyes were on Strickland’s drama.

He showed up to media day in a shirt that read, “A woman in every kitchen, a gun in every hand.” He also made some homophobic remarks.

Pennington, an openly gay woman, chatted with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour about the chaotic fight week. Strickland’s comments were distasteful, but she kept her eyes on the prize.

“At the end of the day, people are going to talk,” Pennington said. “They’re always going to have their own opinions. You’re allowed to have your own opinion, but at the end of the day, you’re not going to affect my life. What you do with your life doesn’t affect me. I just think it was disgusting on his part to even be concerned about us as human beings and our lifestyle, and just the comments he was making.

“MMA has grown a ton. The women are here. We’re here to stay. The divisions are growing. You have tons of up-and-coming talent, so to criticize female athletes, I don’t agree with any of that. But I can’t control that, and that wasn’t my focus. My focus was to go out there and accomplish my goal.

“Dana [White] and Hunter [Campbell] came in before the press conference, and they asked me how I was doing with everything. It was just one of those things, you take it as a grain of salt, and you dish it out. It’s not going to affect what I’m here doing. At the end of the day, you want to talk, but we’re still your co-main event fight.”

Strickland was vocal with the media, but not so much in person. Pennington said he never interacted with her personally.

“Every time he came around, we both turned the other direction,” Pennington said. “I stared at him a couple times, and he would just turn the other direction. He’s out there, he’s a great athlete, he’s selling his fights, running his mouth, he’s being — freedom of speech, doing whatever — but no, he didn’t say anything. Interesting character.”

Pennington achieved her goal, winning the vacant title with a unanimous decision victory over Bueno Silva. Strickland, on the other hand, lost his belt by split decision. White announced post-event that he wouldn’t take action against Strickland for his comments.

Pennington doesn’t care for Strickland’s views, but she supports White’s stance on how to handle things.

“At the end of the day, that’s why the world is the way it is,” Pennington said. “People are constantly attacking different things. At the end of the day, you should be focused on just yourself, but it’s always going to be that way. I think it’s important for people to stay true to who they are and focus on the things they can control. You can’t control other people, and when you’re letting these other people impact your life, it’s only going to drag you down. It’s going to hold you back from what you want. …

“I don’t know. I respect Dana and Hunter for giving their concern. I also respect the fact that they give freedom of speech and they give their athletes the platform to be who they are and they just don’t care. A lot of people are constantly criticizing things and attacking Dana and saying different things but he does care about his athletes. He is there, and he did check in on us to make sure things were OK. He was like, ‘I have your back with this situation,’ too. But for me, it’s just one of those things where if I was took focus on it, it was only going to have a negative impact for me.”


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