UFC San Antonio: Raquel Pennington Details Return from Tough Stretch

Raquel Pennington scored her first win since 2016 with a split decision over Irene Aldana at UFC San Antonio. After the fight, she discussed the tough journey that took place between victories.

San Antonio, TX – After missing 2017, Raquel Pennington was thrown right into a title shot against dominant champion Amanda Nunes. The fight resulted in a one-sided loss, and Pennington fought just five months later against former champion Germaine De Randamie. Falling for the second time in a row, Pennington was in a tough spot heading into UFC San Antonio, but she was able to pull out a victory over Irene Aldana.

“My entire career, I’ve been the underdog. 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 having fun through it all. I have what I need for me. There are some great fans out there who truly support me. I have a phenomenal family. I have coaches who truly believe in me and teammates who are always there. 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 feel grateful and blessed to have this opportunity. I’m going to continue doing what I do and getting top fights and I never turn down anything that comes my way.”

From major shoulder surgery to a broken leg, Pennington has been through it all since her last win. Retirement was even on the table at one point.

“I’ve climbed so many obstacles. The past few years were hard on me emotionally. I finally stepped back after the De Randamie fight. I can’t even look back or remember a piece of it. Honestly, I shouldn’t even have been in there. It doesn’t come down to my performance or anything. I was having a lot of health issues. After I fought Miesha, I went into multiple surgeries. I came back and into a high-profile fight with Amanda. But even before I got to recover from my surgeries, I jumped in there, then I broke my leg and it was me pushing myself to get back out there because I was antsy. I wanted to do what I absolutely love and I wasn’t ready for any of them. I needed to take more time, listen to my body, do things right. So this time around, I fought Germaine, I thought, ‘I seriously need a reset.’ And that’s where I was at the crossroads. It’s either, I walk away and that’s it, I had a good run. Or I dig within myself and see where I truly want to go. Truth is, I’m not done. I’m just getting started and I’m having fun again.”

The mental aspect of fighting is incredibly important, and Pennington was not getting the most out of herself until recently, when she put her motivational speaking experience to use.

“It was my mind and it was my heart. It was just talking to the ones around me who mean the most and just listening to what they had to say. It was stepping back and just thinking within myself. Along the way somewhere, I started doing a lot of guest speaking and I’m a high school gymnastics coach and I could sit here and give all these motivational speeches and do everything, but I wasn’t taking my own advice. I was throwing it all down the drain. I was like, ‘You know what? This is still in me. I still have a lot to give.’ So that’s when I decided to turn it around. I got super serious when it came to my health because first and foremost, that’s what’s important. As soon as I figured that out, I felt like myself again. And when I felt like myself again, there was a fire, there was a passion. That fire was re-lit.”

Check out the rest of Raquel Pennington’s UFC San Antonio post-fight media scrum above.