Raquel Pennington doesn’t mince words about her UFC 246 rematch with Holly Holm. To her, it was a dud.
Pennington (10-8 MMA, 7-5 UFC) said she was thrilled to have the opportunity to avenge a loss to Holm last January in what was the co-main event under Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone. It was an underwhelming affair, though, with Holm taking a unanimous decision in a bout that received much negative feedback.
The result still irritates Pennington, and she said she’s using it as a source of motivation going into Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 11 matchup with Marion Reneau (9-5-1 MMA, 5-4-1 UFC).
“That was a one-of-a-kind fight,” Pennington told reporters, including MMA Junkie, during Thursday’s UFC on ESPN 11 media day. “I was pretty bitter on that one. I’m not a poor sport or anything like that, but I will be the first to admit it: I was super bitter about that. It was a fight I wanted for five years. I wanted that rematch, and just to go out there and have that opportunity – we were on a huge card, we were the co-main event and for us to go out there and have it happen the way it happened. That fight was just – I don’t even want to go call it a fight. That hug match was frustrating.
“It was funny because back when I originally fought her I was like, ‘Man, I should’ve beat this chick.’ So it kind of lit the flame. Then I went on my winning streak and then I had setbacks going into my surgeries then coming back, then all of a sudden that fight did the same thing again. It lit the flame all over again. There’s a new fire burning, and I definitely want a different performance come Saturday.”
UFC on ESPN 11 takes place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, with Pennington vs. Reneau positioned as the featured bout on the ESPN/ESPN+ broadcast.
Pennington’s past five fights have either come against former or current UFC champions (Holm, Amanda Nunes, Miesha Tate, Germaine de Randamie) or names currently scheduled in top contender matchups (Irene Aldana). Although she’s no pushover, Reneau hasn’t reached quite that level in her career, so she represents a bit of a step down.
By no means does that mean Pennington is taking her next opponent lightly, but she thinks she can use this spot to shine.
“She is ranked No. 10 (in the UFC’s official rankings), and I’m not looking past her at all,” Pennington said. “A fight’s a fight, and anything can happen, but I’m super excited for this fight and this opportunity to get back out there.”