Since she entered mainstream consciousness on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter, Colorado’s Raquel Pennington has stood out as something of a gatekeeper. While nobody refuted her talent, it was hard to imagine her contending for UFC bantamweight gold. On Saturday night, that changed.
Pennington kicked off the main card of the landmark UFC 205 alongside women’s MMA pioneer Miesha Tate, who was, coincidentally, her coach on the Ultimate Fighter. The bout marked the starkest test of Pennington’s career – and she passed it with flying colors.
For three rounds, Pennington out-gunned her experienced foe on the feet, and out-hustled her on the mat. By the time the third round ended, she’d done more than enough to earn the judges’ favor, and would walk away from the fight with massive win that would transform her from fringe contender to bona fide bantamweight frontrunner.
As it turns out, Pennington would also be the final opponent of Tate’s long career. In the moments after the bout, Tate announced her intention to retire from MMA.
In a recent interview with MMAJunkie.com, Pennington gave her thoughts on the surprising retirement of her opponent and former coach.
“I mean, this is a huge opportunity,” Pennington said of their fight. “It’s an honor to be here and fight on this New York card. If she’s going to go out with a retirement, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with going out with a loss, but Miesha has nothing to keep her head down about. She has every reason to keep her head high.”
Pennington went on to credit Tate for her role in putting women’s MMA on the map – a feat that is generally attributed to Ronda Rousey.
“Everybody says Ronda [Rousey] is the face of women’s MMA, but I believe that Miesha belongs up there too. She’s done some wonderful things and put on some wonderful performances. This card, it’s a huge opportunity to make history. If this is the card she wanted to go out on, she has all my respect.”
What do you think of Miesha Tate’s retirement? Sound off, PENN Nation!