After struggling with her weight cut last year, then moving to 145lbs only to be turned back by Norma Dumont, Aspen Ladd successfully hit the bantamweight limit ahead of UFC 273 as a first-time underdog.
With that part of the battle over, she then had to contend with the always-dangerous former title challenger Raquel Pennington, part of the Jacksonville, Florida-based event’s preliminary card.
There was no touch of the gloves in this one. Both fighters took the center of the octagon, and a front kick from Ladd started the fight. A right hand from Pennington then landed. A high kick from Ladd was blocked. Ladd caught a kick from Pennington. Pennington charged Ladd and put her against the fence. Ladd got off the fence after a few seconds, and both fighters landed combos. A jab to the body from Pennington came with two minutes left in the round. Ladd threw a high kick and then a front kick, but both were blocked. Less than a minute left in the first frame, and Pennington landed a heavy left hook. Pennington landed a couple of knees from a Thai clinch, and then the round ended with both fighters swinging.
Round two started with Ladd landing two low kicks. Next, Pennington landed a body punch and a superman punch. After exchanging combos, Pennington rushed Ladd and put her against the fence. Ladd defended a takedown and then escaped.
Ladd landed a head kick and then poked Pennington in the eye just over two minutes in, briefing about a brief halt to the action.
Back underway, with a little over two minutes left, Pennington landed a nice combo. Less than two minutes left, and both ladies exchanged combos that got the crowd cheering. Pennington put Ladd against the fence again, and Ladd escaped after a while. Ladd landed a body kick that appeared to hurt Pennington and then decided to clinch. As the round ended, Pennington rushed Ladd throwing punches that landed, and Ladd answered back with a hook of herself.
Round three started with a front kick and combo by Ladd. Pennington responded with a front kick of herself. Roughly a minute in, and Ladd landed a nice kick but ate a right hand. Pennington put Ladd against the fence. While against the fence, they exchanged knees. Ladd landed a takedown with less than three minutes to go. Pennington got back to her feet, and Ladd tried to jump Pennington’s back, but it was defended. Just over 90 seconds left, and Pennington escaped, but then Ladd put her against the fence. One minute left in the fight, and Ladd landed a trip takedown against the fence, but Pennington immediately got back up. The fight ended with Pennington getting off the fence and then both fighters swinging.
Come the scorecards, it was Pennington taking the clear-cut win. Pennington has now won four straight, while Ladd has dropped two in a row for the first time in her career.
Official Result: Raquel Pennington def. Aspen Ladd via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)