Raquel Pennington would probably rather forget 2017 entirely.
Following a four fight win streak including a victory against former women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate at UFC 205 in 2016, Pennington appeared poised to challenge for the title in the very near future.
It appears plans were in motion for that to happen at UFC 219 against current champion Amanda Nunes, but Pennington recently suffered a broken leg in a vehicle accident during a hunting trip that will put her out of action until 2018.
Pennington had already missed the rest of 2017 due to shoulder surgery and now she’ll have to sit out even longer while a proposed matchup against Nunes will have to be delayed as well. Combate in Brazil first reported the news about Pennington’s injury.
It’s an unfortunate turn of circumstances for the former “Ultimate Fighter” competitor as she had put together the most impressive win streak of her UFC career while steadily moving up the rankings in recent years.
Now Pennington will have to sit out at least for a few months to mend the broken leg while she awaits word on whether or not a title fight will still await her when she comes back.
Meanwhile, Nunes is expected to sit out the remainder of 2017 after the fight with Pennington fell apart according to sources close to the women’s bantamweight champion. The injury to Pennington also leaves Nunes without any notable opponents as 2018 draws near.
Without Pennington in the mix, the next few ranked fighters aren’t viable candidates to face Nunes next. Valentina Shevchenko just fell to Nunes earlier this year and she’s already stated that her next move will be going to the newly minted 125-pound women’s division. Julianna Pena is out due to pregnancy while Holly Holm is expected to move up to 145-pounds to face Cris “Cyborg” Justino for her next fight assuming a deal can be struck for that matchup to take place before the end of the year.
The most logical contender could be Cat Zingano at No. 6 in the rankings because she holds the last win over Nunes in the UFC, but she’s been out of action for well over a year and she’s also coming off a loss in her last fight.
In other words, the UFC has some difficult decisions to make over the next few months to try and find a viable contender to face Nunes in her next title defense.