UFC champ Raquel Pennington would take umbrage with Kayla Harrison receiving title shot after one win

UFC bantamweight champion Raquel Pennington thinks Kayla Harrison should have to work her way up to the top.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and PFL champion Harrison (16-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes her octagon debut in a bantamweight bout against former champ Holly Holm (15-6 MMA, 8-6 UFC) on April 13 at UFC 300 in Las Vegas. Considering Harrison’s name and accolades, Pennington (16-8 MMA, 13-5 UFC) won’t be surprised if she was declared No. 1 contender with a win over Holm.

Pennington wouldn’t agree but embraces any challenge.

“In my mind, it’s Julianna Peña,” Pennington told LowKick MMA of her first title defense. “That’s what me and my team are preparing for, and it makes sense. It’s tough because the UFC does business how they want to do business. Obviously, you have Kayla Harrison, who just signed to the UFC. They do have a habit of when someone has a big name, they like to fast-track them. So I wouldn’t be surprised after UFC 300 next month if Kayla wins, if a phone call is a lot different after that fight.

“But we’ll see. For me, I think it’s Julianna. Just from having to grind from the bottom up, never being handed anything, there’s a lot of women in this division who have been busting their ass for years upon years, and they’re wanting opportunities. I do not find it fair. I get the business aspect of it. But I do not find it fair when an athlete comes in and just because they have a big name, they get to skip the line. I’m not opposed to fighting anybody, like scared of anybody. I love the challenges out there.”

Pennington’s journey started on Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2013. She worked her way to a title fight against then-champion Amanda Nunes in May 2018 but was stopped by fifth-round TKO. “Rocky” would then go 6-2 before earning a second shot – a vacant title fight vs. Mayra Bueno Silva at UFC 297. She won the fight by unanimous decision to become bantamweight champion.

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie