UFC's Raquel Pennington turns to journal writing to calm pre-fight jitters

Raquel Pennington talks with her coaches during training at Triple Threat Gym on Friday, August 12, 2016. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette

Raquel Pennington might ask for a plus-one at every fight moving forward.

Joined on a card by fiancée Tecia Torres, Pennington stormed past Marion Reneau in an unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Earlier in the evening, Torres put together an even more convincing unanimous victory over Brianna Van Buren.

“I was actually thinking the same thing,” Pennington said when asked if the first card she shared with Torres as a couple might lead to more. “It was kind of fun watching Tecia before me, then coming out here.”

The win was Pennington’s second in her past three matches and her eight wins as a bantamweight put her behind only Amanda Nunes. Ronda Rousey is tied for third with six.

This one started slow for the Harrison graduate and lifelong Colorado Springs resident. Pennington (11-8) trailed on two of the three judges’ cards after one round but connected with multiple impactful knees and elbows in the final two rounds.

Of the 18 rounds scored for Pennington and Torres on Saturday, they won 16.

Torres’ victory lacked the slow buildup. With about a minute left in the first round she broke free of the grasp of Van Buren (9-3) and began to land quick strikes to the face. Once Van Buren’s defenses were breached, the fight turned lopsided as Torres snapped a four-match winless streak and notched her first victory since 2017.

“They weren’t bad losses,” Torres said in a postfight interview. “They were against champions. If you do what I did and not get the (bleep) kicked out of you, you still need to be talked about.”

Torres (11-5) was ranked as high as No. 7 in the women’s strawweight division during a 10-1 start to her career. Now ranked 11th, she feels this could be a key step in climbing back toward title contention.

For Pennington, this was a chance to get back on track after being stymied by Holly Holm’s holding strategy in a January loss. Saturday’s fight threatened to bring the same lack of action, but after a delay for a low blow from Reneau (9-6-1), Pennington grew more aggressive. Body blows seemed to impact Reneau, and then shots to the face kept her stumbling through much of the final round and a half.

Pennington and Torres had fought on the same card twice before, but not since they became a couple. There was hesitation, particularly on Torres’ part, to add the stress of worrying about a significant other when focusing on an opponent. But it worked out.

“Obviously tonight was a special night with me and Tecia both fighting on here,” Pennington said. “There’s nothing I can do but smile.”

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