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Raquel
Pennington
built her reputation on grit, craft and unshakeable
determination.

The well-traveled 33-year-old will tackle Aspen Ladd
in a sneaky showdown between Top 10 contenders in the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
women’s bantamweight division
atop the
UFC 273
undercard on Saturday at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
in Jacksonville, Florida. Pennington enters the cage on the
strength of a three-fight winning streak. She has not taken a step
back since she lost a unanimous decision to Holly Holm in
their UFC 246 rematch more than two years ago.

In advance of Pennington’s forthcoming battle with Ladd at 135
pounds, here are five things you might not know about her:

1. Perseverance paved her way.

Pennington suffered a broken back in a snowboarding accident during
her senior at Harrison High School in Colorado Springs. She took up
mixed martial arts training at the age of 19 as a means to stay
active.

2. She was the B-side at the starting line.

“Rocky” made her professional MMA debut opposite Kim
Couture
—the ex-wife of UFC hall of famer Randy
Couture
—at a Medieval Fight Productions event on March 3, 2012
in Casper, Wyoming. Pennington put away Couture with knees to the
body in the second round.

3. Her reality check went well.

Pennington was a semifinalist on Season 18 of “The Ultimate
Fighter” reality series in 2013. She submitted Tony Evinger with a
second-round guillotine choke to advance to the quarterfinals, then
took a unanimous decision from Jessamyn
Duke
before being outpointed by Jessica
Rakoczy
in their three-round semifinal.

4. She has a clear mode of operation on the mat.

All four of Pennington’s submission wins have involved the neck.
She dispatched Raquel
Canuto
with a guillotine choke in the first round of their
Sept. 8, 2012 encounter under the Destiny MMA banner, put Ashlee
Evans-Smith
to sleep with a bulldog choke in the first round at
UFC 181 on Dec. 6, 2014, subdued Jessica
Andrade
with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their
Sept. 5, 2015 pairing at UFC 191 and dismissed Macy
Chiasson
with a guillotine choke in the second round at UFC
Fight Night 199 on Dec. 18, 2021.

5. Her fingerprints are easy to identify.

Pennington holds the UFC women’s bantamweight records for
appearances (14), fight time (3:22:33) and total strikes landed
(1,070). She also ranks second all-time in wins (nine), control
time (50:11), significant strikes landed (727) and submission
attempts (nine).

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