Raquel Pennington (3-3-0) vs. Jessamyn Duke (2-0-0, 1NC)
Raquel Pennington (3-3-0)
Pennington is 5'7 or 5'8 depending on who is being referenced. She has a solid build, strong, and has good hips.
Pennington has boxing as a base, having some professional wins. She is a solid brawler, hits hard, has okay hand speed, and is used to fighting taller opponents who can throw. Pennington used to train with Leslie Smith, so you know she has Muay Thai experience. Pennington has decent takedown defense and is overall effective at defending submissions and applying them. She has trained with Cat Zingano after they fought one another and after the TUF tryouts.
Pennington mentioned Zingano told her that she clinched with her so much during their fight due to hearing Pennington has good boxing and didn't want to get caught by a bomb.
Pennington's best win is against Sarah Moras at Invicta. Pennington kept the fighting standing or reverse or stifle Moras when she managed to get the fight to the ground. Pennington beat up Moras in the standup. Raquel Pa'aluhi is more of a mid tier fighter who has shown some promise while Kim Couture came to fighting too late to be much more than a low level fighter.
Tori Adams defeated Pennington at 145. Adams is a solid wrestler and has a good amateur record and is 1-1-0 as a pro.
Cat Zingano and Leslie Smith both hold wins over Pennington. Zingano felt out Pennington in the first round, mostly clinching while looking for trip or suplex takedowns in the clinch in the first round, second round ending in a rear-naked-choke. Pennington's fight with Smith was a standup war with Pennington getting the edge in the first round but Smith changing up tactics in the subsequent rounds and beating up Pennington.
Pennington's only amateur loss is to Taylor Stratford. (7-1-0 as an ammy)
Pennington will likely try to crowd Duke into the fence and or draw her into close quarter fighting but avoid actual clinches unless she can control Duke. Staying inside of Duke's range while being able to hit at her own range will allow Pennington to do more damage then Duke will be able to deal with. Duke's knees in the clinch is something Pennington will want to avoid.
Pennington will likely be able to avoid being taken down. She does have a decent ability to reverse and her ground and pound is solid.
Some of Pennington's Fights.
Jessamyn Duke (2-0-0, 1NC)
Duke is taller at 5'11 with a average to thin build and a longer reach. She is fit, likes to run, flexible, with long limbs and knows how to use them.
Duke has a Muay Thai and bjj base. Duke has solid standup and submission skills. She knows how to use her long limbs to great effect against those opponents who let her stand at range or who cannot deal with her length in the clinch. She has a harder time against opponents who can pressure her and deal with her length. Duke frequently travels and trains with many people in the Women's MMA community, showing up with Kaitlin Young, Shayna Baszler, Ronda Rousey, and training bjj with Eddie Bravo.
Duke holds professional wins over Suzie Montero and Marciea Allen. Duke dominated Montero in their fight. Allen was also overmatched on her feet against Duke but managed to get Duke on the ground, even held her hair briefly while ground and pounding her, and Duke whipped Allen into an armbar finishing her.
Duke also fought Miriam Nakamoto. Duke avoided standing up with Nakamoto, knowing her habit of wrecking opponents in standup, and looked to take the fight to the ground from the clinch position. A two minute long clinch battle ensued in which Nakamoto eventually turned the positions around and beat Duke up with knees from the clinch but a late knee left the door open for the fight to be turned into a NC instead of the KO.
Duke has an ammy record of 5-2. Good wins but two losses to Amanda Bell and Ashlee Evans-Smith, both losses took place at 145.
Digression into Duke's opponents, losses:
Duke will want to keep Pennington away from her at first to try and hurt Pennington at range. If Pennington closes the distance Duke will want to get a Muay Thai clinch going to hurt Pennington with knees. Duke may look for a takedown if she starts to lose the standup and Duke may also be willing to play off her back a little as she knows how to use her long limbs to submit opponents. I doubt Duke will try to stay on the ground long if she starts to suffer ground and pound though, as Pennington hits hard.
Some of Duke's Fights.
Who will win this fight is a tough one to answer. I strongly suspect this will be an excellent fight and the previews indicate it will be one.
Raquel Pennington, in my opinion, should probably win this fight. It ought to be a close fight and Duke is certainly capable of pulling off what I would feel is an upset but I have Pennington as the more likely winner.
Additional issues that might come into play:
Pennington's experiences fighting very tough opponents will help her as she has been in close wars against top opponents.
There is an issue of size as well. While both fighters have fought at 145 before Duke is the larger fighter here and it will have been into the 4+ weeks at this point in the competition. The need to keep on weight will, more likely, negatively effect Duke in my opinion so a protracted fight will more likely benefit Pennington.
Both Pennington and Duke are familiar with one another. They have both seen each other fight and knew that they might have to fight each other in Invicta and so have had some thought and planning into how to deal with each other.
So, again, I feel Raquel Pennington is the most likely to win this fight. I am looking forward to it.