clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jessica Penne sees title shot as chance to 'earn that respect'

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

You'll never catch Jessica Penne trolling her way into the spotlight. The inaugural Invicta 105-pound champion and current top contender to the UFC strawweight title prefers to let her work in the Octagon do the talking.

But still, Penne couldn't help but notice the UFC didn't make all that big a deal of it when she was named challenger to champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk as the main event of the June 20 UFC Fight Night card in Berlin, Germany.

"They have a lot of fighters on their roster," Penne said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. "If I'm not getting attention from them, I just know I have to go out and earn it. I've never got a lot of attention from one specific promoter, I just need to go out there and get those fights and earn that respect."

Penne, who recently switched camp from Reign MMA to San Diego's Alliance, was training for a May 30 bout with Julianna Lima when the call came from the UFC.

"I was at Alliance, with some of my Alliance teammates, and I got a call from [matchmaker] Sean Shelby and sometimes I think that's like, automatically bad news," Penne said. "He told me get up and walk away and be in place no one can hear me. He let me know, I didn't quite process it until [two days later] when I woke up and my phone was exploding with messages and notifications, it just kind of became real a that point."

With that, Penne shifted her attention to the undfeated Jedrzejczyk, who looked like a world-beater in routing Carla Espazra to win the title at UFC 185. Penne, however, is undaunted, thinking the fight was as much a bad style matchup for the former champion as it was a reflection of the new champ's dominance.

"I think Joanna is a really good fighter, but I think Carla didn't really show up to fight," Penne said. "And that made her look even better than she does normally. I'm not at all distracted by that last matchup.  Joanna played an extremely tight, well thought out game plan, and she stuck to it and she accomplished her goals. But Carla didn't show up to fight the way she normally does. In a great division, there's a lot of good and bad matchups for people."

Penne, fought for several years at atomweight before jumping back to 115 in order to appear on The Ultimate Fighter. While she excelled at 105, she feels she's getting comfortable with her new weight class.

"I was a little concerned initially, since I used to fight at 105 but I feel this is a much better fit for my size and my shape," Penne said. "And I'm working hard to grow into the weight class a little bit better. But I do feel 115 is where I should be. Just because I can make 105 doesn't mean it's best fit for me. A lot of guys go down in weight class and end up going back up because its too taxing on their body."

As a bonus, she'll have a chance to avenge her only loss at 105: her fourth-round submission defeat at the hands of Michelle Waterson in 2013, which cost Penne her Invicta title. Waterson announced last week she's joining the UFC's 115-pound class.

"I know she got lucky in that fight and I think she does, too," Penne said. "Right now I'm not worried about it, I've got a championship belt on my mind. If she happens to move up in the rankings and I get an opportunity, of course I'm going to avenge it."

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting