Team Rousey’s Jessamyn Duke and Team Tate’s Raquel Pennington were originally scheduled to fight prior to this season of The Ultimate Fighter, but Duke was advised to pull out of the bout by her coach.
“Raquel and I were actually supposed to fight for my pro debut, but I had only fought at 135 once and my coach was like, I don’t want you to making your pro debut as an underdog,” explained Duke. “I was all disappointed about it, but right now I think the fight was held off for a reason. Now we get to do it on the big stage. We get to do it in front of Dana White, on The Ultimate Fighter and I can’t wait to get in there.”
“I’m not sure exactly what happened with the fight between me and Jessamyn. They pulled out, but I knew one day that we would face off in the cage,” said Pennington.
The Fight: Jessamyn Duke vs. Raquel Pennington
Duke used her reach advantage to keep Pennington on the outside in the opening round. She outworked Pennington, setting the pace with a higher volume of strikes. Duke threw a mix of kicks, punches and knees to take the first round.
Coach Miesha Tate urged her fighter to move forward and Pennington did just that in the second frame. Pennington began landing heavy counter punches. She was able to back Duke up. Duke fired back, landing knees in the clinch. Pennington trapped Duke against the cage and unloaded right hands. Duke appeared to slow and Pennington kept the pressure on to win the second stanza and force a third “sudden victory” round.
Pennington avoided Duke’s clinch game early in the final round and landed combinations. She landed her right hand regularly, backing Duke up. Duke came back in the closing moments, opening up a cut on Pennington, but it was too little too late. The judges scored the round 10-9 for Pennington.
“That fight was absolutely the toughest fight that I’ve had,” said Duke following the loss. “It’s not the first time that I’ve lost, but it definitely hurt the worst off all the times I’ve lost. I’ll just do what I always do and get back in the gym and train harder and be a better fighter so that I can be the best.”
The fight brought back the animosity between the coaches.
“I tried to shake their hands afterward and Ronda just flipped me off,” said Tate. “I think the tables have turned. She used to be the one always giggling at me, and I would get all upset about it, like I hate this girl. But I don’t really hate her anymore. To me, it’s just kind of funny.”
Pennington’s win put matchmaking control back in the hands of Team Tate. Tate decided to pit Josh Hill against Team Rousey’s Michael Wooten.