Raquel Penington: Larger than life and not backing down
While Amanda Nunes is one of the top female fighters in the MMA, another one who’s kicking, punching, and wrestling her way on the road to the UFC championship is Raquel Pennington.
Pennington had recently lost a title fight to Nunes last May with a fifth-round TKO, though she had previously defeated former champion Miesha Tate and title challenger Bethe Correia.
She’s set to fight Germaine de Randamie at UFC Denver on November 10. De Randamie had previously defeated Holly Holm at the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight champion in February 2017.
Pennington– or “Rocky”– is engaged to marry fellow UFC fighter and women’s strawweight contender Tecia Torres. The two had been dating since 2016, and Pennington proposed to Torres at their home in Colorado last year.
Raquel Pennington: Born for sports
Born 5 September 1988, Pennington hails from Colorado Springs in Colorado. Growing up, she was a sports buff, playing different sports like basketball, softball, and volleyball. She also wanted to box.
“I started training at the age of 19. I always wanted to fight but my parents never let me,” she said.
She went to Harrison High School, having attained the position of secretary of the National Honors Society during her time there. She graduated in 2007.
She wasn’t able to play sports on a collegiate level due to a broken back from snowboarding in her senior year.
Thanks to an academic scholarship, she went to the University of Colorado Springs. She’s currently attending pre-med on her way to to becoming a doctor.
While fighting as an amateur, she won seven fights and lost one with five titles. Before shifting to professional status in 2012, she had a 3-3 record and was the world bantamweight/Hawaiian islands champion of Destiny MMA.
Raquel Pennington: Fighting as a pro
When Pennginton made her professional debut, she won a second round TKO of Kim Couture. In that same year, she won one fight against Sarah Moras but lost against top UFC contender Cat Zingano.
Her current record is that she’s won the last six out of nine fights: one by KO and three by submission.
Her last fight against Nunes drew controversy after a fifth-round TKO loss. During the bout, Nunes broke Pennington’s surgically repaired leg, which she got from a vehicle accident in 2017.
Pennington said the nerve pain from the leg was different: “All that, you can work through it. But let me tell you: When it’s nerve damage, that’s all that was registered to my brain.”
On fighting as a professional in the UFC, she said: “For me, it’s a great accomplishment making it as high in the promotion as I can go and a life change for not only me, but my family.”
“It’s also a way to reach out to the people in the world and tell my story and show them it’s possible for them to achieve their dreams as well,” she said.
Raquel Pennington and Tecia Torres
But while Pennington seems indomitable in the ring, she shows that she has a soft side as evidenced by her proposal to Torres that they posted on Instagram.
Pennington posted a picture of the moment, ring in hand, and wrote in her post: “She said YES!!! And we had and amazing day with all our wonderful friends and family celebrating our new home.”
Torres wrote in her post: “I am blessed to wake up to you every morning and fall asleep in your arms at night. I can’t wait to become Mrs. Pennington.”
As if that isn’t enough to show #couplegoals, the two also train together at the Triple Threat Gym in Colorado Springs, where Pennington serves as Torres’ coach.
Speaking to the Orlando Sentinel, Torres said both of them are quite competitive: “It’s just in your nature when you’re an athlete to be competitive in everything.”
Fortunately, they don’t have to meet in the ring: Torres is in the 115-pound strawweight division and Pennington is in the 135-pound bantamweight division.