Many of my friends online are avid MMA enthusiasts much like myself. They have asked me my personal thoughts on selected competitors from this season’s The Ultimate Fighter competition. I’ve kept fairly quiet about my thoughts until now. Today, I will share some of my thoughts and insights on TUF 18 Women’s Semi Finalist Raquel “Rocky” Pennington.
TUF fans are being robbed. Alright, maybe “robbed” isn’t the right verbiage to use. They are being deprived of seeing the skill set that Pennington possess. For those die hard MMA fans who watch MMA competition from a plethora of different venues and promotions might have caught a couple of bouts that Pennington had during her tenure in Invicta FC got to witness via proxy more of how well rounded Raquel actually is when she is in battle.
That isn’t to say her three round war with Jessamyn Duke wasn’t impressive. It most certainly was and I am looking forward to her semi final paring with Jessica Rakoczy, and I believe there is heighten interest in this match up solely on what was on displayed in Raquel’s open round bout. Pennington very much played to her strength of being smart, sometimes a lost art in MMA. She sized up Duke and figured that Duke’s plan going into their bout was to take the fight to the ground where she seems to be more comfortable.
I don’t know this to be fact but I think Duke thought that Pennington in contrast wanted to keep the fight standing and try to out punch her, one could only surmise that to be the case because Duke stood up and tried to slug it out with Pennington. Pennington is impressively and deceptively strong, so I am not sure that fight would have any other outcome than the one we witnessed regardless where that match ended up. Those who haven’t been as exposed to Pennington’s body of competition might be surprised to learn that in five of her eight amateur fights, she stopped her opponents via submission.
For those that might be following me on Twitter, I stated a similar statistic but I was incorrect. I misinterpreted the statistic when I went back and watched her incredible fight with Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras when they both fought at Invicta 2 – Baszler vs McMann. What the commentator said was out of her seven amateur victories five came by way of submission. Semantics, sure but when I put information out there that I think is accurate, I want to make sure it is absolutely accurate to the best of my ability. Alright enough of my statistical inaccuracies and more on Pennington.
The question remains and this question will be answered soon, is how will she approach her fight with someone is very proficient with and is known for her striking ability? If I were a betting man in Vegas, I’d probably be broke but aside from that I would venture to think that Pennington would try to avoid being punched in the face. Big shock there, I know and instead of banging with Rakoczy, I can see Pennington to take this to the ground where like I’ve mentioned she’s equally comfortable.
I wish I could come across as this all knowing MMA insider and compare Pennington with another fighter but I simply can’t. Many female fighters while exposed to and train in different facets in many different disciplines to hon their fighting styles, tend to like to stick with what they are most comfortable with much to their record statistical determent.
Pennington, is a rare breed and I am sure as the popularity of women’s mix martial arts escalates we will see more and more women that share similar overall total package type of fighting style. For now, watching her compete in the octagon is a breath of fresh air, and I am hoping that even if for some reason her quest to obtain a contract is stiffened we will continue to see her represent the UFC women’s bantamweight division. More about that thought in a minute.
I am overtly impressed with the quality of athleticism Pennington has and will continue to demonstrate to fans. She’s the kind of MMA fighter that fight promoters would salivate on the idea of cloning over and over again. She has mentioned in a couple of interviews that she seems to freeze up when she goes into athletic combat. She has no problem tearing into sparing partners (to her tell her side of the recount) but when it comes to situations where wins and losses actually count she becomes somewhat gun shy.
If I could offer her one advice:
I get it I couldn’t get medically cleared to play a game of chess let alone for MMA competition, so why would she take advice from me right?
Humor me. If I could her one bit of advice and if she would accept it. Advice is free one can take it or leave it. I would just tell her, “You are a beast. You are physically and athletically gifted. There is absolutely no reason to be intimated, shy or be of this absurd mindset that you for whatever reason you concoct in your head don’t belong. You most certainty do. You belong in the cage, it has become your natural habitat. Go in there and just bring it. You will win, but if you don’t so what? You will eventually avenge the loss and you’ll move on. You have no reason to be intimidated by other fighters – I think if the truth be told fighters like Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Liz Carmouche and Cat Zingano should be more afraid of you then you should be of them. You got this, now get out there and do it and get it done.”
Alright, that came totally across a pep talk than simple advice but I still stand what I’ve said. She has all the tools and physical ability to tear through any opposition that anyone puts in her way. Which leads me to another reason I am not just a fan of but a huge fan of Pennington. While some fighters will take on any bout, she’s very selective. She only takes on the best which means she’ll be like a kid at Disneyland (I am sorry Rocky, I am not too geographically literate when it comes to the Colorado Springs landscape. Although, I do have family there). She’ll have all the competition she can handle and more once she makes it into the UFC.
I absolutely loath fighters that take on fights they know they will win decisively just to pad their win loss record. Iron sharpens iron, oh so my father would tell me and the only way to make yourself better, you associate with or in this case fight against others that you perceive to be better at what you do than you are. Rocky in her five year career has fought some of the who’s who of MMA.
I would like to conclude this diatribe by expounding on an idea I expressed earlier. Should Pennington taste defeat during this experience, I have no doubts that she has already impressed a lot of people at the UFC, Dana White included. She should still be granted the opportunity and thus a contract to compete and represent the UFC regardless of the outcome.
Pennington not only is an accomplished fighter but she is an incredible ambassador for the sport. I can’t count how many inspiring women fighters have thanked her for being their inspiration and do I dare suggest role model? Anyone who can connect with fans on that kind of level, much like I’ve seen Miesha Tate for quite sometime, is someone a promotion should invest in and invest in them heavily.