Raquel Pennington has claimed the vacant UFC bantamweight title by defeating Mayra Bueno Silva at UFC 297. Pennington lost the early rounds as a fresh Silva bullied her in the clinch, stealing her back and threatening deep submissions.
“Rocky’s” experience and five-round cardio paid dividends, however, as her adversary gassed in the later rounds and the American took over. She took the later rounds, and took home the bantamweight crown, becoming the first bantamweight champion not named Amanda Nunes or Julianna Pena in eight years.
Pennington and Silva touch gloves – the tension could be cut with a knife. Pennington blitzes, barely missing her target. Pennington catches a kick, hopping Silva back to the cage, she lets go and the fighters trade underhooks. Silva lands a mean elbow and they break the clinch. Pennington grabs a lazy single leg, Silva threatens a ninja choke before landing more elbows. Silva gets Pennington in a Thai clinch, landing knees before switching up and dumping her opponent with a double-leg. Silva takes the back and threatens a rear-naked choke, Pennington bearing all her weight.
Pennington breaks free momentarily but Silva reclaims her back and drops her to the ground – sinking both hooks in with her legs. Silva lands some thudding shots from the back, round one is in the books for the Brazilian.
Round two starts with a frenetic pace as both fighters scrap. Pennington’s boxing can’t prevent Silva from securing the clinch, backing Pennington to the cage. “Rocky” turns her foe into the fence, breaking off to land some punches. They trade… Silva snaps up the Thai clinch again and drops to a double leg just like before. They break, and Pennington swings hard, hurting Silva with a big shot – Silva is visibly shaken. More clinching, Pennington with the advantage this time. Silva steals the back with brute force, sinking in a tight choke across Pennington’s chin — she lets go… Pennington drops down with Silva on top and the round ends. A closer one this time.
Pennington looks sharp to open the round, but she finds herself in a clinch again. The fighters exchange underhooks and knees. Silva is trying to change levels… Pennington turns her into the fence — Silva lands a nice throw but Pennington recovers. Silva snatches up a nasty ninja choke but it’s not on the neck, Pennington slips out. “Sheetarah” lands a thudding elbow and they both return to the cage side. A short break, before Silva dumps Pennington on her backside, it doesn’t work out as Pennington gets up and finds Silva’s neck. Silva’s tired, enticing Pennington to come to the ground.
The referee stands Silva up. Silva attempts a lazy takedown and Pennington ends up in her guard. The round ends. Silva looks to be fading as they enter the championship rounds.
We’re in the championship rounds. Pennington clubs Silva with a leaping right hand straight off the mark. More clinching against the fence… Silva lands some nice elbows using a collar tie and ends up taking Pennington’s back again. Silva sinks in a deep rear-naked choke, and squeezes hard! Her face is straining — but Pennington gets out! Pennington’s in half-guard… Silva almost secures an armbar but Pennington is wise to it. Silva transitions to a triangle, and Pennington clubs her with ground and pound. Pennington ends up inside full guard again, stands up, and lands leaping ground strikes like Shogun Hua. The round ends and Pennington is the fresher fighter.
The fifth and final round. Silva looks and behaves completely exhausted. Pennington is snappy by contrast. Pennington tees off on Silva against the fence. Silva attempts a submission and Pennington threatens an arm-triangle — it’s tight! Silva gives the thumbs-up… Pennington holds for about thirty seconds straight, but it’s not working. Silva scrambles, Pennington adjusts and the triangle is tighter! It was close, but Pennington abandoned the choke. In the final minute — Pennington landed some great ground and pound. silva lays on her back completely exhausted as Pennington tees off on her legs… that’s the end! An underwhelming end.
Raquel Pennington wins by UNANIMOUS DECISION (49-46, 49-46, 49-45)
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Mathew is a UK-based combat sports journalist. He currently works for MMA Knockout, part of the Sports Illustrated FanNation network. The Fight Fanatic is Mathew’s one-man operation. His past bylines include Heavy on UFC, Sportskeeda, and MMA UK.
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