Raquel Pennington: 'I'm just really proud of myself' for rebounding from rough stretch

SAN ANTONIO – It’s been quite the rocky road for Raquel Pennington, who picked up her first win in over two years this past Saturday at UFC on ESPN 4.

Pennington avoided a three-fight losing streak with a split-decision win over Irene Aldana in a hard-fought battle at AT&T Center.

The past three years have been full of road blocks for Pennington (10-7 MMA, 7-4 UFC). After picking up the biggest win of her career over former bantamweight champion Miesha Tate in 2016, Pennington underwent multiple surgeries before a championship fight vs. Amanda Nunes.

Then a freak accident while hunting took her out of her scheduled title fight with Nunes at UFC 219. Pennington injured her leg and found herself on the road to recovery once again. She eventually competed for the title at UFC 224 but was outmatched by the consensus greatest female fighter of all time, Nunes. Pennington then lost a unanimous decision to Germaine de Randamie later in 2018 at UFC Fight Night 139.

Pennington was forced to take a step back and reevaluate everything. She believes she rushed, which stifled her performances.

“After I fought Miesha, I went into multiple surgeries, and it felt like I came back, and I came into a high profile fight with Amanda but even before I got to fully recover from my injuries,” Pennington said backstage after her win. “I jumped in there, and then I broke my leg. It was me pushing myself to get back out there just because I was antsy. I wanted to do what I absolutely love, and I wasn’t ready for any of them.”

Following her two losses, Pennington had a decision to make. After everything she’s gone through, Pennington is starting to enjoy the process again.

“I needed to take more time,” Pennington said. “I needed to listen to my body and do things right, so this time around after I fought Germaine, I was like I seriously need to reset, and that’s where I was at the crossroads. Either I walk away, and that’s it. I had a good run. Or you know what, I dig within myself and see where I truly want to go, and the truth is I’m not done. I feel like I’m just getting started, and I’m having fun again.”

Feeling doubted throughout her career, Pennington needed Saturday’s win to prove something to herself. She’s fought high-level competition, champions, former champions, and top contenders, which validated to her that she belongs at the top of the division.

“It’s exciting. There’s really no words for me right now. I’m just really proud of myself, to get back in there and prove some things to myself,” Pennington said. “I’ve had a hard comeback. I’ve just been climbing one mountain after the other, and it just felt like I couldn’t catch a break. So to get back out there and get my hand raised, I mean, self accomplishment for myself right now.”

“My entire career, I’ve been the underdog,” Pennington added. “I’ve kind of been the dark horse in everything, and that’s fine. I keep fighting top opponents, I keep doing things. I’ve been slowly climbing and just having fun through it all. There are some great fans out there that truly support me. I have a phenomenal family. I have coaches that truly believe in me and teammates who are always there. And for me, that’s all I need. Just to go out there, I have a passion in my heart, and I’m just chasing it, and I’m just grateful and blessed to have this opportunity.”

For complete coverage of UFC on ESPN 4, check out the UFC Results.

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