When opportunity knocks, you still have to answer the door. Former Invicta FC atomweight champion Jessica Penne couldn’t pass up the chance to compete on The Ultimate Fighter 20, even if it meant going up a weight class.
“I think I’m the best fighter at 105, and it was time to go up to another weight class and try it out. The opportunity, I couldn’t pass up. That had a big part of it. It’s such an amazing opportunity,” the 31-year-old athlete recently told MMAWeekly.com. “Who could pass it up?”
Prior to the announcement that TUF 20 would feature an all female strawweight cast, Penne had no intentions of changing divisions.
“I really hadn’t. I was asked if I would be interested and I said no. And then I found out about the show, so I went and tried out,” she said.
Penne believes she has an advantage over the rest of the cast heading into the house. Most TUF contestants drop a weight class after appearing on the reality series. The format of having to cut weight and fight several times in a short period of time makes it difficult for some fighters to be successful on the show. We’ve seen several fighters miss weight in recent seasons.
“I definitely think it’s an advantage to not have to worry about weight. I’ll have to diet down just a little bit because I did try to put on some good size, and I was successful in that,” said Penne.
“I think the people that have had the most success in previous seasons are people that have gone up in weight class rather than going down, or fighting at their normal weight class,” added the California native.
If she’s successful, and makes a winning run through the show, Penne would be rewarded with the first ever UFC strawweight championship belt. But only time will tell if she opened the correct door. The Ultimate Fighter 20: Team Pettis vs. Team Melendez premiers on Sept. 10 on Fox Sports 1.