Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweights Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington took the center of the Octagon last night (Feb. 28, 2015) at UFC 184 inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
To watch Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington full fight video highlights click here.
As a former boxing champion, Holm brought plenty of hype with her into the Octagon for her debut. Paired off with the tough but beatable Pennington, Holm looked to prove that her momentum was deserved.
On the other hand, Pennington was looking to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the year. While the odds were against her, "Rocky" nevertheless fought hard for the victory.
While she came on strong late, it simply wasn't enough.
Pennington made it fairly clear early on that she was looking to grapple, as she pushed into the clinch a number of times. However, she was not able to do much with it, as both women simply traded knees before breaking apart.
In the center of the cage, Holm was clearly at an advantage with her variety of kicks and punching combinations. However, Pennington was able to land some hard low kicks, which bruised Holm's thigh by the end of the first. Despite those kicks, Holm was clearly ahead going into the second.
The second round was quite similar to the first. Holm's punches and kicks connected at a higher volume than her opponent, but many were telegraphed, allowing Pennington to block plenty. However, since many of Pennington's punches and kicks simply missed her opponent, she was at a disadvantage heading into the third round.
Recognizing this, Pennington really upped the pressure inside the final frame. Near the end of the bout, her right hand began connecting frequently. One of them dropped Holm, but the boxer was quick to return to her feet and fire off a knee.
While Pennington attempted to create a finish inside the third round, she could not do so. Instead, Holm finished the fight with a bloodied nose, but she had her hand raised in the end.
This was not exactly the star-making performance that many hoped Holm would produce. She clearly deserved the decision win, but she did not dominate her foe. In fact, Holm absorbed quite a few hard strikes from Pennington and spent a fair amount of time in the clinch.
Neither of which are good indicators for her chances against Ronda Rousey.
Regardless, Holm will probably end up squaring off with Rousey in her next match. There's simply no other contenders at the moment. While another fight of two worth of experience likely would have done Holm some good, she'll simply have to rise to the occasion.
Pennington played her role of gritty underdog well. She kept trying to win the entire fight and had some strong moments inside the final frame, but it still wasn't enough to overcome Holm's sharper striking and athleticism.
For Pennington's next trip to the Octagon, she'll hopefully be paired off with a fellow up-and-comer. Pennington has faced some very stiff opposition inside her short career, and her record shows it. Considering the fact that she's fairly young at 26 years old, it doesn't seem necessary or smart to throw her to the wolves again.
At UFC 184, Holm successfully made her UFC debut, though she faced more adversity than expected. Will Holm be the woman to dethrone Ronda Rousey?
For complete UFC 184 "Rousey vs Zingano" results and live play-by-play click HERE.