The future is anything but certain at the top of the women’s bantamweight division. UFC 215 was supposed to provide closure on a closely contested 2016 bout between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko. Or, at the very least, provide solid grounds for an immediate rubber-match. Instead it failed to deliver either.
A somewhat lackluster fight – which nonetheless managed to be controversial – left neither the ‘Lioness’ nor ‘Bullet’ captured in the limelight. Nor did it leave much taste for a 3rd bout between the two women. And, as a result, it’s left something of a void when it comes to who the next title challenger should be.
One of the women most likely to fill that void is Raquel Pennington. Despite not having competed since a high profile win over former champion Miesha Tate in November of last year, Pennington’s four fight win-streak leaves her primed for a chance at UFC gold.
And, like many watching at home, she wasn’t all that impressed with what she saw from the champion, or the title challenger, at UFC 215.
“I wasn’t impressed with either one of them,” Pennington said on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“I don’t feel like either one of them really went out there and did anything. The highlights made the fight look a lot more exciting than what it really was,” she continued. “Amanda, she had center control the entire time and I guess if you really want to break it down - I haven’t broken it down yet to see all the strikes landing and stuff and I didn’t pay attention to all that, I was just kind of watching the competition because I do believe I’m the No. 1 contender now. So that’s kind of more of what I was paying attention to.”
“I just figured, with the close fight that they had before, that Valentina would come out given this opportunity and put on a bigger performance, and Amanda obviously wanting to keep the belt, she would go out there and try to dominate,” Pennington said. “But to see them just kind of go back and forth and stand in front of each other, and it was kind of annoying me with the fact that they were bragging about her cardio and stuff because in my opinion everyone can stand in front of each other and do that for five rounds.”
The other name likely to be in contention for a shot at the belt is a familiar one: former champion Holly Holm. Holm is coming off a June KO win over Bethe Correia, her first win since 2015. Outside of Pennington and Holm, there aren’t really any other contenders well situated in the division for a title fight. Who knows? If Nunes wants to take some time off, we may end up with Holm vs. Pennington II for the spot of no. 1 contender in the meantime.