Bethe Correia was looking to prove she's still among the top contenders at bantamweight coming off a memorable loss to Ronda Rousey. Raquel Pennington was trying to prove she belongs in the conversation.
That clash of will led to a solid brawl at UFC on FOX 19 in Tampa on Saturday. In the end, Pennington edged Correia on the scorecards in a razor-thin decision, getting two out of three 29-28 scores in a split-decision victory.
"You know it wasn't the greatest performance I wanted," said Pennington (7-5). "I trained my butt off and really wanted to show up and show an all new Rocky."
The first round was a slow burner, as Pennington did her best to elude the straightforward Correia (9-2). But things picked up in the second round, as the duo traded nasty shots in close.
"I knew she was going to want to brawl," said Pennington, a Grudge fighter. "I started getting pissed off when she started smacking me a bit, so I started smacking her back."
The third was more of the same, as the two went toe-to-toe with with jabs and counters and landed elbows and knees in the clinch.
For Correia, the tight loss was her second in a row, and first since moving her camp to American Kickboxing Academy. Pennington has won three out of her past four fights.