Following a tough start to the fight, Pennington made the necessary adjustments to start doing more damage to Vieira while also displaying superior boxing and speed throughout the fight. Vieira did her best to answer back but in the end it just wasn’t enough to sway the judges in her favor.
The final tally had two judges giving Pennington the fight with 29-28 scores with the third official giving the same 29-28 score to Vieira. That was still enough for Pennington to get the job done as she notches a fifth consecutive victory in a row.
“Honestly, I wanted to come out and do a little bit more,” Pennington said. “I prepared so hard for this fight. I am relieved. I have a history with the judges and it gets super frustrating. But I felt like I did do enough. It was just coming out and being me.”
It was a game of moments in the opening round with Vieira marching forward and Pennington firing back with fast hands including a well-timed jab that started landing with consistency. In return. Vieira was setting up her counter strikes while clearly displaying more power in her hands and also connecting with a quick knee when Pennington got a little too aggressive on the inside.
Vieira was also using her reach advantage, which helped her keep Pennington on the end of her punches but she still had to be wary when The Ultimate Fighter veteran uncorked a combination. Pennington’s ability to land strikes in succession was her best weapon, which kept catching Vieira really gaining any momentum.
Pennington’s pressure and pace were paying dividends as she really began landing with clean punches that kept Vieira on her heels. Realizing the fight was potentially slipping away from her, Vieira went back to a more aggressive style and that allowed her to start connecting with better strikes, although Pennington seemed undeterred by the challenge.
With time ticking away to the final horn, Vieira sought to swing the odds in her direction with more clinch work against the cage but Pennington wasn’t allowing her to do much from there. While Vieira was maintaining control and even attempting to get her opponent’s back just before time expired, Pennington was still more offensive minded throwing punches and knees that likely helped her secure the decision.
Pennington fell short in her previous bid to become UFC champion but with this win she takes a major step forward towards another shot at gold and perhaps a rematch with Amanda Nunes in the future.
“I am going to say this — five fight win streak,” Pennington shouted. “I deserve respect. Here we are.”