Raquel Pennington is focused on becoming champion at UFC 224

UFC women’s bantamweight contender Raquel Pennington spoke to media backstage at UFC 223 about her fight with Amanda Nunes, being a gay role model and more.

In about a month, Raquel Pennington will have the opportunity to finally capture championship gold when she takes on current UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 224. Prior to getting her first title shot in the UFC, Pennington racked up four straight victories, with the last being a unanimous decision win over Miesha Tate back in November 2016.

Since her last bout, Pennington underwent surgery for a torn bicep that left her on the sidelines for nearly all of 2017. Following the successful surgery, “Rocky” was preparing to return to the Octagon in what could have been a title opportunity against Nunes at UFC 219. Alas, Pennington suffered another mishap, a broken leg due to an ATV accident, which put her out of fighting for several more months.

Now, rehabilitated and back to work, Pennington is ready to go for gold.

Speaking with media backstage at UFC 223 in Brooklyn, Pennington spoke about her upcoming fight with Nunes and why she is ready for the challenge.

“I think everybody can break. Nobody’s invincible. I think that Amanda’s gonna be surprised come May,” said Pennington. “I have a lot to bring to the Octagon and with this long layoff, my drive, my hunger and my passion is on a whole new level.

“My ultimate goal is to go in there, focus on what I’m doing and at the end of the day come out with my hand raised.”

As she readies for battle, Pennington also reflected on a few interesting elements surrounding her matchup with Nunes. For one, this will be the first time Pennington has headlined a UFC card since joining the promotion back in 2013. It was during this year where women were eventually allowed to compete in the UFC and have continued to break barriers for the promotion and sport in general.

Then, the fight between her and Nunes is the first time two openly gay athletes will fight for a UFC title. Pennington could not be more excited to take part in such a historic bout.

“It’s extremely exciting. Just the fact for one where women’s MMA has come to today and just that we have this opportunity and here we are headlining a UFC event,” said Pennington. “And then obviously its 2018, so just being openly gay and being able to be myself and then going up against another basically fellow partner. It’s extremely exciting for me.”

When asked about being considered a role model for the LGBTQ community, Pennington says she’s comfortable with being a representative.

“I get lots of things all the time with whatever it comes from whether it’s the sport in general, whether its needing advice and so the fact of having the opportunity, I think it inspires a lot of people,” said Pennington. “A lot of people think that I sit here and I inspire them but just the reactions that I get back to everything while I’m just simply chasing my passion, it inspires me to be even better.”

UFC 224 goes down on May 12 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the Jeunesse Arena.