Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Amanda Nunes has accomplished a lot in her career already but she still shocked the world when declaring just recently that retirement was on her mind.
Following her five-round demolition against Felicia Spencer at UFC 250, the promotion’s first and only two-division women’s champion revealed that calling it a career was a real possibility as she and her wife await the birth of their first child later this year.
Former opponent Raquel Pennington knows that Nunes has certainly racked up enough accolades that she could hang up her gloves and feel completely at ease with her career as it stands. That said for all the chatter about retirement, Pennington doesn’t actually believe Nunes is ready to walk away.
“Amanda’s accomplished so many things in her career, to where if she’s satisfied can she walk away, for sure,” Pennington explained when speaking to MMA Fighting during the UFC on ESPN 11 media day. “But at the same time, she’s young. She’s in her prime. I mean right now she has a baby on the way. Her and Nina [Ansaroff] got married and stuff. She’s building her family. She’s focusing on a different part of her life currently, which is completely fine.
“Sometimes you get so surrounded by the fight game and get lost in it but now she’s looking at a different part. But I think inside, the fighting’s still there. She’s not ready to fully give it up. Does she want the time off? Sure and then probably in a few months once it’s said and done, she’s going to have that itch again. She’s not done.”
It was just over two years ago that Pennington went to war with Nunes in her only attempt to win gold in the UFC.
On that night, Nunes earned a fifth-round TKO stoppage but Pennington just recently went back to watch their fight again and she saw a much different performance than the one she initially remembered.
“No excuses. Amanda’s a bad ass fighter,” Pennington said. “She does everything that she’s supposed to. She’s a champion for a reason. I just feel like I’m in a different place now as opposed to coming back. I had a really hard layoff and then coming back and going straight into the biggest fight of my career with Amanda, coming off a broken leg, all the things. A lot of people don’t even realize how I was feeling in that fight. That girl caught my leg at the very beginning of it and I felt like I was in survival mode.
“That’s one thing that I look back on during the quarantine, I was actually able to watch the fight and the emotions that I’ve been carrying from that fight since 2018 to actually watching it, I was like there’s nothing but pride there. I’m super proud of everything. For knowing exactly how I felt and seeing actually how I performed. It felt 100 percent different in my mind. So to see it, I’m ready for round 2.”
Pennington knows she’s got some work to do before earning another title shot but after an unbelievably “frustrating” outing in her last fight against Holly Holm, she’s ready to put on a show against Marion Reneau on Saturday night.
“It lit the flame all over again,” Pennington said about her recent loss. “There’s a new fire burning.”