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Wrong Rocky: Raquel Pennington on price of mistaken identity in Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial

UFC 273 Ceremonial Weigh-in
Raquel Pennington
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

The other day on social media, Raquel Pennington wished everyone a good morning – except for the other Raquel Pennington.

The other one, who briefly took center stage in the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial, is the reason the veteran UFC bantamweight can’t open her social media without a deluge of nasty comments. The other one is the reason she gets DMs hoping her career fails, and the reason her partner, veteran UFC strawweight Tecia Torres, is part of a conspiracy theory about their relationship.

The other Pennington even has the same nickname: Rocky. If you Googled Raquel “Rocky” Pennington and “slap” or “punch” or “head-butted,” you might end up where thousands upon thousands apparently did, looking at pictures of a tattooed UFC fighter.

The story this Pennington told is that she was Heard’s friend — according to many, her “BFF” — and had on several occasions seen the aftermath of alleged abuse at the hands of Depp.

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The other Raquel “Rocky” Pennington
Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

If you didn’t dig a little further, or maybe even clicked stories where this other Raquel “Rocky” Pennington testified in court from what appeared to be a conference room in Los Angeles, you might have an idea of what it’s been like to be Raquel Len Pennington, 33, from Colorado Springs, Colo., for the past two months.

Once and for all, the UFC bantamweight declares: They are not the same person.

“For one, we don’t look alike,” Pennington told MMA Fighting. “For two, I’m obviously an athlete, I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I’m covered in tattoos, I have muscles. But there’s people on the internet – you know the internet, it never fails. So they’re like, ‘Oh, you guys look like twins.’ Absolutely not.”

Pennington shared with MMA Fighting a few of the messages she’s received since Depp and Heard went to trial. She estimates she’s received hundreds of them through all of her platforms.

The last one is a case in point for why, as Pennington says, the internet never fails – or in many cases, never fails to get things wrong, dramatically overreact and leave an innocent person with a big headache.

“Apparently, I’ve lived in Johnny Depp’s penthouse, rent-free,” she said.

Some of the commenters will realize their mistake and publicly apologize. But it doesn’t help when even major media outlets are still getting their facts wrong. A story from Yahoo! on Wednesday incorrectly identifies the other Raquel “Rocky” Pennington as an MMA fighter.

Some of Pennington’s trolls have even taken to sending anonymous emails.

Pennington has thick skin, so she can laugh at the absurdity of it all. She’s even had fun with it, at one point posting a photoshop of her face over the other Pennington’s body, arm-in-arm with Heard.

Pennington has had to be tough from day one as a female fighter and one of the few openly gay athletes in the UFC. To a certain extent, it’s a battle every day that she gets on the internet and interacts with people. Only now, this is a battle that has nothing to do with her. It’s funny, but less so when she considers the people around her who may not be used to it.

“They took photos off my social media of me and Tecia at previous fights, and now, she’s dragged into it,” Pennington said. “I’m protective over my family and the people I care about. Say what you want about me, but don’t talk s*** about my loved ones.”

Pennington hadn’t followed the trial, but eventually, she got online just to see what people were saying about her doppelganger. Her opinion of the other Pennington and Heard didn’t improve.

“I don’t know the whole history, and at the end of the day, people are human beings and everybody makes mistakes, so I’m sure Johnny Depp had his bulls*** in the case, too,” she said. “But from just watching these two girls, Amber and Raquel, the s*** that they’re saying, honestly, they have some interesting acting skills, because they’re making themselves look like fools, honestly. That’s my opinion.”

Pennington and Torres requested an interview with MMA Fighting to tell their story in hopes of pushing back against the avalanche of headlines that kept the trolls alive. But then again, she’s unsure what to tell people that can’t seem to let go a case of mistaken identity. If they didn’t believe her before, it’s hard to imagine they’ll believe her now.

But she might as well try, because this whole thing is getting ridiculous.

“My thing is, do your homework,” Pennington said. “If you’re going to be invested in something, know what you’re talking about before running your mouth to other people.”