Raquel Pennington feels well prepared for Holly Holm. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
As a cast member of the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter" to include females, Raquel Pennington knows what it means to be scrutinized.
Thanks to that experience, Pennington isn’t really feeling the pressure following her promotion to UFC 184 co-headliner.
“You know, it's exciting. I mean, I kind of just try to put everything off when it comes to it,” Pennington said during a conference call. “It's the same thing I did with ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ Everybody made it such a huge hype with my season, [with] us being the first women in the house and what not, and if you put that pressure on yourself it kind of plays a part.”
Saturday’s event at Staples Center in Los Angeles was decimated by injuries and card reshuffling, as three major bouts -- Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort, Jacare Souza vs. Yoel Romero and Frank Mir vs. Antonio Silva -- were all eventually removed from the event.
As a result, Pennington’s bantamweight matchup with former boxing world champion Holly Holm occupies a more prominent spot than initially anticipated. Although the co-main event combatants have a combined three UFC fights between them, Pennington says the lofty position is deserved -- even if Holm is the one with the heavy promotional push.
Regardless if I’m the co-main event due to Holly’s hype train, I feel like my hard work’s actually paid off and I deserve to be there,” she said. “I’m not your fighter that goes out and does everything I need to in the media space, but I sit here and I feel like my hard work is totally paying off.”
Pennington and Holm were originally supposed to square off at UFC 181 on Dec. 6, but that meeting was postponed when Holm sustained a neck injury in training. Instead, Pennington defeated short-notice foe Ashlee Evans-Smith with via bulldog choke 4:59 into the opening stanza.
The extra time to prepare for Holm has been beneficial, Pennington says.
“When it came to my last fight camp, I had a phenomenal camp. I prepared, I took myself to a whole new level as a fighter and as a person,” she said. “And within the time from going out and performing against Ashlee and then going back into another fight camp, I feel like it's only made me progress that much more and prepared me to become that better fighter and be even more prepared for the fight that I'm going into [Saturday].”