As Raquel Pennington trains for her semifinal fight against Jessica Rakoczy, she injures her right hand taking down Brian Caraway. After a team doctor puts her dislocated bone in place, Pennington says that her wrist is swollen and fears it will affect the fight.
“The game plan just got totally changed to just 100 percent ‘freaking grab her.’ I mean, your hand is gonna suck but once you get in there and you start just grappling, you’ll be good,” said Team Tate Assistant Coach Ricky Lundell. Coach Miesha Tate thinks Pennington’s best chance is to be quick but cautious in looking for a TKO.
Rakoczy also injures herself when sparring partner Chris Beal busts up her shoulder. “I was a little frustrated and I was showing it and you can’t show it in a fight because then people will attack. I know when it comes to fight time I’m not gonna feel it and I’m just gonna be banging.”
On fight day, Pennington says that most of her preparation for this fight was mental, giving her body time to heal. Rakoczy says that being the last TUF pick has not deterred her goal of making it to the final. Neither Tate nor Coach Ronda Rousey believe their fighter’s injury will affect their performance.
Rakoczy begins the fight with a flurry of left jabs while favoring her right shoulder. As Pennington pedals backwards, Rakoczy gets caught trying to land a knee. Pennington pushes Rakoczy to the other side of the octagon and lands a takedown. Pennington tried to gain full guard but Rakoczy peppers her with elbows as the horn sounds.
The second round begins with Rakoczy using the same boxing technique that stopped Pennington’s attack in the first round. Pennington continues to take left jabs, unable to mount an offensive game plan. With less than a minute left, Pennington charges for a takedown, but is stuffed as the round ends.
Rakoczy changes strategy in the third round by beginning with weak leg kicks. Desperate, Pennington struggles for a takedown that is quickly stopped. With less than 30 seconds left, Pennington takes Rakoczy down and mounts her in a futile attempt to win the round.
The judges unanimously score the match 30-27 in favor of Rakoczy.
As Dana White summons both coaches to center ring, Tate whips out a pair of socks with a middle finger sewn in. Rousey takes the socks and slaps Tate on the shoulder.
“Ronda Rousey isn’t some ‘let’s play pranks on each other and let’s have fun.’ She’s not that chick,” White said. “I couldn’t get them out of the octagon fast enough.”
As Rousey walks out of the gym, she tells Tate to ‘get used to wiping your ass with the other hand.’
TUF finale is set with Chris Holdsworth facing David Grant in the men’s final and Rakoczy taking on Julianna Pena in the women’s match. They face off on Nov. 30 with a six-figure UFC contract on the line.