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Raquel Pennington plans on whooping Peña’s ass before Kayla Harrison

LAS VEGAS – Raquel Pennington has long been looking forward to fighting Julianna Pena.

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Pennington (16-8 MMA, 13-5 UFC) and Peña (11-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) have been on a collision course ever since their time on Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” but they never crossed paths inside the octagon.

Now Pennington is closing in on her first title defense, which Peña hinted will take place at UFC 307 on Oct. 5 in Salt Lake City. Pennington sees Peña as the fight to make over recently signed Kayla Harrison (17-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who submitted Holly Holm in her promotional debut at UFC 300 in April.

“That’s the fight that I’ve had in mind,” Pennington told MMA Junkie and other reporters on the red carpet of the 2024 UFC Hall of Fame. “Obviously you’ve had Kayla Harrison come to the UFC and it’s exciting to have such a person with a resume and with a huge name behind her and the hype train behind her.

“But, just being one of those athletes who’s been in the sport for so long and I’ve had to work from the ground up, I just don’t find it fair for her to come in and work her way to the top immediately. With Julianna, it’s been a fight that I’ve had in sight for what, 11 years now? Since ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ so, that’s the one that’s in the works.”

Pennington clarifies that while fighting Peña is her priority, she sees a matchup with Harrison in the near future.

“I want anything that the UFC throws my way,” Pennington said. “I’ve been a gamer in this sport ever since I’ve started so, I’m not opposed to anybody. I just feel like Julianna’s been here a lot longer, she was a champion as well.

“We have a history from ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ Somehow we haven’t fought in the last 11 years. It’s a fight that I’ve definitely been looking forward to. I plan on whooping Julianna’s ass and after I whoop her ass, then I would love to take on Kayla.”

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