Raquel Pennington is in position to give Amanda Nunes her stiffest challenge to date. It is a point that Pennington looks to prove tonight as she challenges for Nunes’ women’s bantamweight title at UFC 224.
Raquel Pennington is an underdog in the eyes of most. Only one of 15 people took Raquel Pennington over Amanda Nunes in MMA Junkies poll.
The belief that Raquel Pennington could be Amanda Nunes’ toughest foe is not a slight to Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and Valentina Shevchenko. Each of Nunes’ most recent opponents had a knock against them.
In the case of Miesha Tate, the former champion was much slower and less powerful than Amanda Nunes. Tate was also on the downside of her career.
Ronda Rousey was coming off a long layoff when she fought Nunes. That layoff was due to a brutal loss to Holly Holm. Some questioned whether or not Rousey should have fought a tune-up fight first in order get her bearings first. Rousey was not ready for Amanda Nunes
Valentina Shevchenko was ready for Amanda Nunes, but she is considered better suited to fight as a flyweight. Shevchenko fought Nunes, knowingly giving up some size, and she was overpowered. Versus Raquel Pennington, Amanda Nunes will have no such advantages.
The biggest praise for Raquel Pennington is how strong and tenacious she is. Pennington is also a natural bantamweight, who can move up in weight and not cede her power. Raquel Pennington is a puncher with a strong chin. That alone gives her a chance against Amanda Nunes.
What also will help Raquel Pennington against Amanda Nunes is her will.
Raquel Pennington does not give up. She has endured some difficult times in the Octagon. It left some to wonder if she will ever be able to fully break through. Pennington is where she is because she is relentless.
One of the hidden themes surrounding the main event of UFC 224 is the history behind it.
Amanda Nunes facing Raquel Pennington will feature the first championship match between two openly gay competitors, according to the Shadow League. That the competitors are the primary story, not the history they are making, is a true sign of progress. What will speak volumes is a competitive fight.
Raquel Pennington should be competitive. Can Pennington pull off a major upset? Fans will soon find out.