UFC 224 main event features a women’s bantamweight fight as dominant champ Amanda ‘the Lioness’ Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) defends her title for the third time as she faces Raquel ‘Rocky’ Pennington (9-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC).
Both of Nunes’s title defenses have been stern test’s as she took on former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and surging Valentina Shevchenko respectively. However she passed both the tests with flying colours as she edged out Shevchenko in a razor thin split decision and dominated Rousey with a TKO victory in just 48 seconds.
Pennington will enter the octagon through a hostile Brazilian crowd as a 10-1 underdog. Pennington however feels confident and is not paying attention to the odd makers or the MMA community.
It doesn’t change anything,” Pennington told MMAjunkie. “I’ve worked hard for this opportunity, I deserve it, and in my opinion, I’m the better fighter walking into this one. Just for me, I feel like she’s the one that has more pressure. She’s fighting in front of her home country and stuff like that. She has a lot more expectation on her. For me, it’s just passion. It’s fun. I’m just going to go out there and be me.”
“I feel really confident about this fight,” Pennington said. “I just feel really confident in my skills and my abilities. I did a lot of soul-searching, I guess you can say, throughout this fight camp. I’ve probably experienced every emotion that you can probably think of. It’s been a long camp, but I kind of went back to my roots, and I thought about everything.”
This attitude as also helped Pennington in her last fight as she entered as a heavy underdog against former women’s bantamweight champion and her Ultimate Fighter coach Miesha Tate at UFC 205 in November 2016. She won the fight via unanimous decision.
“I started this with a goal and a passion, and this is just one of the goals, and it still goes from here. At the end of the day, the nerves are going to come, but for me, it’s like I always say: When you’re feeling the nerves, it just means your body is ready and you’re excited.”
Pennington then explained how she sees her opponent and what makes her different than other contenders Nunes has faced.
“I think that I’m a fighter that brings something that Amanda’s never experienced,” Pennington said. “At the end of the day, Amanda has great striking, but I have better striking. I feel like I bring more of a brawling style, and I can take a punch. So she wants to sit here and give me one punch, and I’ll take one punch to give her three.
“And on top of that, I think that I’m the better wrestler. And then the ground game – a lot of people categorize me as this brawler, but they haven’t seen my well-rounded game. And that’s one thing, I think, that makes me extremely dangerous.”