On Saturday night, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, female fighters will headline and co-main event a UFC pay-per-view for the first time in the organization’s 22-year history.
Women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey puts her title and undefeated record on the line against top contender Cat Zingano in the featured bout, while multiple-time world boxing champion Holly Holm makes her promotional debut against Raquel Pennington in the co-main event.
Pennington, The Ultimate Fighter 20 semifinalist, tries to put the historical aspect of women headlining a UFC event in the back or her mind heading into Saturday’s event to solely focus on welcoming Holm into the UFC by defeating her.
“It’s exciting. I kind of just try to put everything off when it comes to it. It’s the same thing I did with The Ultimate Fighter,” said the 26-year-old during a recent media conference call.
“Everybody made it such a huge hype with my season, us being the first women in the house and whatnot,” she added. “If you put that pressure on yourself, it kind of plays a part. So when it comes to it, regardless if I’m the co-main event due to Holly’s hype train and stuff, I feel like my hard work’s actually paid off and I deserve to be there. I’m not your fighter that goes out and does everything I need to in the media space, but I sit here and I feel like my hard work is totally paying off.”
Since making the transition from boxing to mixed martial arts, Holm is undefeated at 7-0. She’s only gone to a decision one time. Although she may be the most accomplished boxer to ever compete in the UFC, she’s finished five fights via kicks. Pennington is correct in her assessment, Holm has a lot of hype heading into her UFC debut.
The two were originally scheduled to fight at UFC 181 in December, but Holm had to pull out of the bout due to a neck injury. Ashlee Evans-Smith replaced Holm, and Pennington submitted her in closing seconds of the opening round.
Pennington believes she’s better heading into the UFC 184 bout than she was when originally scheduled to face Holm at UFC 181.
“When it came to my last fight camp, I had a phenomenal camp. I prepared, I took myself to a whole new level as a fighter and as a person. And within the time from going out and performing against Ashlee and then going back into another fight camp, I feel like it’s only made me progress that much more and prepared me to become that better fighter and be even more prepared for the fight that I’m going into (on Saturday).”