UFC 224 will be headlined by a Women’s Bantamweight championship fight between Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington. Nunes comes into the fight with huge wins over Valentina Shevchenko, Ronda Rousey, and Miesha Tate while Pennington has had her own success and is on a four-fight winning streak.
Interestingly, Pennington will be stepping into the octagon after a long gap as her last fight came back in November 2016.
Raquel Pennington: I think it has an extremely positive impact just because I am extremely hungry, extremely driven, extremely motivated because I was taken away from what I love for so long. I am just excited and ready.
And though making a return to a championship fight works out perfectly, one thing that could work against Pennington is the home advantage of Amanda Nunes. UFC 224 will go down in Rio and the crowd is expected to back the Nunes thanks to her Brazilian roots. Pennington, however, is least bothered about the same and is actually excited by the prospect of fighting in Rio.
Raquel Pennington: I am extremely excited to be here, I have always wanted to come to Rio and I have always wanted to fight for the women’s bantamweight championship so I think it is a win-win for me.
Speaking of the actual fight, the firepower of Nunes will indeed be one of the biggest headaches for Pennington. 13 out of 15 wins in Nunes’ career have ended in stoppages which add up to a whopping 80 percent. ‘Rocky’ is completely aware of the ways in which the fight can end but she is hoping to get a stoppage herself.
Raquel Pennington: A fight is a fight. I can go over it a thousand ways in my head of how I would love it to end, but you never know. If it does go the distance, I am more than prepared, but I am hoping for an earlier finish than that.
The Cris Cyborg saga
It might be Pennington who is fighting for the title but the fans are buzzing about a potential super fight between Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes. Most of them have overlooked the possibility of Pennington winning against Nunes and the 29-year-old admits that it has been frustrating for her to be involved in the whole thing.
Raquel Pennington: You know, it is frustrating at first just because of there are two separate divisions there. People love the entertainment factor and that’s what I see that fight as, entertainment. I think the fight that is happening now is the one that should be happening. At the end of the day I don’t care what people think and I am chasing my own passion.
Adding to this, a win for Pennington would completely change the dynamics of the Bantamweight division and though not many champions are known for doing it, Pennington would be open to giving Nunes an immediate rematch if the UFC allows.
Raquel Pennington: You know I think it is a position she has been in and she has obviously held, so I think if that is what is to come sure. I am not opposed to it but there are also a lot of other people working their way up to it too. Whatever UFC decides.
Winning the title is easier said than done and we’ll have to wait till UFC 224 to find out whether Pennington can derail the reigning champion.
UFC 224 will be live and exclusive on SONY ESPN SD and SONY ESPN HD on 13th May 2017 at 7:30 am