Monday, May 16, 2022

Pennington On TUF Stint With Peña: “Everybody Was Making Fun Of Her”

UFC women’s bantamweight Raquel Pennington has revealed why her experience with Julianna Peña on The Ultimate Fighter makes her reluctant to support the champion.

Over the years, some of the UFC’s best have graduated from seasons of TUF, the promotion’s own fighter-finding reality show. From legends like Forest Griffin, Rashad Evans, and Michael Bisping to current champions and contenders like Kamaru Usman, Rose Namajunas, and Robert Whittaker, an abundance of talent has emerged from the show.

The latest TUF alum to hold gold on MMA’s biggest stage is Peña. “The Venezuelan Vixen” ascended the 135-pound mountain last December when she dethroned then-double champion Amanda Nunes. The title crowning came just over eight years after she won The Ultimate Fighter 18 bantamweight tournament.

As she heads towards the first defense of her newly-won title, a rematch with reigning featherweight queen Nunes, one of Peña’s former Team Tate teammates has given her take on the champ’s next fight and reign.

During her appearance at the UFC 273 post-fight press conference, which followed a comfortable decision victory over Aspen Ladd, Raquel Pennington was asked whether she hopes Peña defeats the “Lioness” again in order to advance the division.

While “Rocky” admitted a successful retention would prevent a trilogy fight and a holdup in the weight class, she suggested seeing Peña win is not something she enjoys or likes to root for.

“So from the competitive aspect, yeah (I’d prefer for Peña to win), just because, obviously, there’s a holdup. So if Julianna wins, like you said, it moves forward. If Amanda wins, then, hey, they gotta do a third match,” noted Pennington. “And that’s frustrating, especially for us fighters who are trying to climb. I wanna climb, but that’s gonna put months there in between that. So do I hope that? Yeah. Do I necessarily wanna see Julianna win again? Probably not.”

Many would expect former TUF teammates to support each other years on from the show when both are mixing it up with the best. For Pennington, her experience with Peña has created the opposite feeling.

Pennington: Peña “Struck A Different Kind Of Nerve With Me”

When asked to elaborate on why she’d rather not see Peña record another big victory over Nunes, who is widely regarded as the female MMA GOAT, Pennington suggested “The Venezuelan Vixen” has a personality that is tough to befriend, and that “struck a nerve with her.”

The bantamweight contender also suggested Peña was often the brunt of the jokes and insults on the show, which she even said verged on bullying.

“You know, honestly, really, I think anybody’s ever done interviews with me, they know when you’re locked in a house with somebody, feelings build there,” said Pennington. “And Julianna’s just one of those people that I honestly felt bad for her on The Ultimate Fighter. Everybody was making fun of her. They were kinda being bullies.

TUF 18 Weekly Recap - Episode 6 | UFC

“And I was just like, that’s not how I was raised. So I tried to hang out with her and befriend her, and she just has her own personality. And people’s personalities don’t match sometimes, and that’s OK. But she was somebody who struck a different kind of nerve with me for those seven weeks that we were on the show and it’s just one of those things where, as a competitor, I want that fight, regardless if she’s champion or not,” concluded Pennington.

Having defeated the #4-ranked contender at this past weekend’s pay-per-view, Pennington is certainly not too far away from what would seemingly be a grudge match with her fellow TUF graduate Peña.

Before that happens, the champion must repeat the feat she accomplished only a matter of months ago. Peña is set for a rematch with Nunes that will be built upon a return to her roots later this year.

“The Venezuelan Vixen” has donned the TUF gear once again, this time as a coach. The latest edition of the show, featuring Peña and Nunes as rival coaches, is set to hit our screens on May 3. Like many, Pennington will likely have a close eye on proceedings.

Would you like to see Julianna Peña defeat Amanda Nunes for a second time when they collide again later this year?

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