Raquel Pennington reveals she dealt with the flu during UFC 297 fight week: “I don’t know if I can fight”

By Cole Shelton - March 26, 2024

Raquel Pennington had to overcome adversity to even fight at UFC 297 for the vacant bantamweight title.

Raquel Pennington

Pennington was set to face Mayra Bueno Silva in January in Toronto, and she says the training camp was one of the best she’s ever had. However, on fight week, Pennington fell ill and she says it was at the worst point on fight day when she woke up and wasn’t sure if she was even going to be able to fight.

“I wasn’t feeling well in that fight week, I put on a great poker face. The morning of the fight, I woke up and I had zero emotion, the only emotion that I had was that I felt like absolute shit. I felt like I had razor blades in the back of my throat, I already had a headache, I had a ton of pressure in my face,” Pennington said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com.

“Tecia said ‘Hey, good morning, happy fight day, how are you feeling?’ When I tried to talk to her, I was like Tecia, I don’t know if I can fight.’ Fast forward to the fight, they are announcing us, I was talking to my coaches and said this was gonna hurt. The first round started, I had a great camp, and the first round started and I felt my muscle endurance go down the drain,” Pennington continued.

Because Raquel Pennington wasn’t sure if she’d ever get another chance at the title she decided that it was best to remain on the card and fight. But, Pennington knew it wasn’t going to be easy and had to overcome a slow first round as she still felt sluggish.

“We brought my sports psychologist in there that morning, my coaches were in there that morning, we went up and sometimes there are those times of sweating it out and other times your body just truly needs to rest. I wasn’t too sure (if I was going to fight). I took a big risk going in there, I could get injured, all kinds of stuff, I took the chance in my second world title fight. It was in my mind but that is where I had to shift my mind. If I pulled from the fight, I knew they may not push it back or I may never get this opportunity again,” Pennington said.

Ultimately, Pennington ended up defeating Bueno Silva at UFC 297 by unanimous decision to become the new bantamweight champion.