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Raquel Pennington vs. Juila Avila set for Dec. 18 UFC event

MMA: SEP 17 UFC Vegas 37 Weigh-In Photo by Diego Ribas/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A matchup of top-15 ranked bantamweights will take place in December.

Multiple people with knowledge of the UFC’s plans confirmed to MMA Fighting that Raquel Pennington and Julia Avila will square off at the promotion’s event on Dec. 18, which is expected to take place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.

Pennington has won two straight fights and three of her last four heading into her second 2021 appearance. The No. 7 ranked bantamweight in MMA Fighting’s global rankings, Pennington returned earlier this month following a 17-month layoff which included a six-month suspension from USADA after self-reporting that she ingested a pair of banned substances — 7-keto-DHEA and AOD-9064 — and picked up a unanimous decision win over Pannie Kianzad at UFC Vegas 37.

“Rocky” also holds wins over Marion Reneau and Irene Aldana since July 2019.

Avila, ranked No. 14 in MMA Fighting’s global rankings, bounced back from her first octagon loss to Sijara Eubanks with a third-round submission win over Julija Stoliarenko at June’s UFC Vegas 30 event.

“Raging Panda” is 3-1 in the UFC, which also includes a 22-second finish of Gina Mizany and a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over Kianzad in her promotional debut at UFC 239.