The women's mixed martial arts sphere is a relatively small group of people where everyone knows each other.
UFC women's bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and her UFC 224 challenger Raquel Pennington are friends. Nunes has trained extensively with Pennington's fiancé and UFC strawweight contender Teicia Torres. The two headline the UFC 224 pay-per-view event on May 12 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and are setting their friendship aside.
“We met because of this sport, and it’s kind of one of those things where it’s business inside the octagon,” said Pennington during the UFC 224 press conference. “Once that cage door closes, it’s something else. Right now, we have respect, we have sportsmanship, and we have our friendship.”
Fighting friends and even training partners is just part of the job for mixed martial artists competing at the highest level. They're able to separate relationships and the pursuit to be the best in the world.
“I think it’s an interesting fight because of our friendship that we have, so it’s going to be good to see the reaction from the fans because I’m not going to talk any trash about her. She’s not going to talk about me. We’re going to in there and show our work, show what we’re here to do, which is to get in there in that cage and do our best and to get out with the victory. Of course, only one is going to be able to come out with that,” said Nunes.
Nunes has fought opponents in her career that she considered friends. It will be no different at Jeunesse Arena on May 12.
“[Pennington] was on The Ultimate Fighter, so she’s fought against friends in the house. I’ve fought against other girls that I’ve had friendship before, like Miesha Tate,” said Nunes. “It’s very natural for us. We’re very professional.”