Raquel Pennington responded to those criticizing her and the women’s bantamweight division after she fought Mayra Bueno Silva in the UFC 297 co-main event.
On January 20, Pennington secured a life-changing unanimous decision win against Mayra Bueno Silva to claim the vacant UFC women’s bantamweight title. Unfortunately, the fight at UFC 297 wasn’t overly exciting for a title bout, leading to heavy backlash from the MMA community.
The disrespect toward Pennington and the UFC women’s bantamweight division went to another level when Ryan Clark of ESPN’s DC & RC suggested the entire weight class be scrapped due to the uninspiring performance.
During an interview on Unlocking the Cage, Pennington had this to say about Clark and other people overly criticizing her:
“At the end of the day, I don’t care what people say. I’m not here for their expectations and to live up to that. I’m here for me and conquering goals and achieving things for myself. Like I said with fighting, everything can be different. First and foremost, people can criticize, but it’s a lot of people who wouldn’t even step into our shoes for ten seconds. They have no clue what it’s like. There’s been so many athletes, Ronda [Rousey], Miesha [Tate], Cris Cyborg, all the top athletes, Sean O’Malley, who have reached out because they understand the grind, they understand what different things feel like. ”
“Whether a fight is exciting and it’s a quick knockout or it’s absolutely boring or it’s a grind up against the cage or if someone is just fricking wrestles you and lays on you, there is so much energy being exerted. It’s hard, it’s hard when you’re going against another person who has a huge adrenaline rush like you do, and you’re fighting with everything you have. There’s a lot going on, but that’s the world. Everybody is going to criticize and do whatever. For me, like I said, I’m out here achieving my goals. I have a lot more to give.”
Raquel Pennington talks about Dana White and her coaches demanding she “let her hands go”
There’s no doubt that Raquel Pennington vs. Mayra Bueno Silva wasn’t the most entertaining title fight of all time. With that said, Pennington showed flashes of aggression in the striking department that left people wondering why she didn’t pursue a KO/TKO finish more.
During the previously mentioned interview, Pennington revealed Dana White and her coaches have been pleading with her to be less cautious:
“Dana White even said it, he came up to me after the fight, and he’s just like, ‘Let your freaking hands go. I’ve been telling you this for years. You do amazing at not listening to your coaches.’ My coaches, first and foremost, are the ones right there, and they’re like, ‘Separate and strike.’ In my mind, I want to separate and strike, but again, it’s like that iceberg effect, everybody sees what’s going on at the top, they don’t see what’s below.”
“I went out there, I got the job done, but I have so much more to offer. I have a ton of experience here, I’ve been in multiple different fights, I have submission finishes, there’s all kinds of different things. So, there’s a lot more that’s coming. For everybody who just wants to talk, keep sitting on your couch and talking and criticizing because again, you’re not living in our shoes.”
At UFC 297, Raquel Pennington cashed in on her lifelong work by becoming a UFC champion. Although her special moment was diminished by the backlash, Pennington has an opportunity to silence the doubters by defending her throne with an action-packed performance later this year.
Watch Raquel Pennington’s response to the UFC 297 backlash below:
"I'm not here for [people's] expectations and to live up to that. I'm here for me, and conquering goals, and achieving things for myself."@RockyPMMA responds to @Realrclark25's comments on shutting down women's BW after #UFC297
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) January 30, 2024