Lupita Godinez not surprised to be heavy favorite for UFC debut vs. Jessica Penne

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Danny Segura
·3 min read
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Unlike many UFC newcomers looking to make their debut on short notice, Lupita Godinez enters her first fight with the UFC as a heavy favorite.

A former LFA women’s strawweight champion, Godinez (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is set to compete for the first time under the UFC banner this Saturday at UFC on ESPN 22 in Las Vegas. She’ll take on former UFC title challenger and Invicta FC champion Jessica Penne (12-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) on the prelims.

Many betting sites have Godinez close to a three-to-one favorite. The unbeaten prospect is not surprised she enters her UFC debut under these conditions.

“It doesn’t surprise me given the last fight that I had and the fact that (Penne) hasn’t fought in many years, so I think people are not really sure what to expect from her,” Godinez told MMA Junkie in Spanish.

“I’m mostly thankful for all the people that believe in me and that have been following me since I started and the fans and everyone. I’m relaxed, that doesn’t affect me at all. Obviously, it excites me and motivates me, but this is a fight and anything can happen. I’m not much of a betting person, but I appreciate that people are believing in me.”

Penne hasn’t fought since April 2017. She was suspended by USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping agency partner, for a failed test in March 2017. She was originally given a four-year ban, but later the suspension was reduced to 20 months. The MMA veteran attempted to make a return twice in 2019 but withdrew from both bouts due to injury.

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Although Penne hasn’t fought in almost four years, Godinez recognizes she’s fighting a veteran of the sport who’s a former UFC title challenger. Godinez, who was born in Mexico but now trains in Canada, is grateful she’ll take on a big name for her first UFC fight.

“Yeah, of course, I couldn’t have asked for a better opponent,” Godinez said. “The truth is that I’m really happy for this matchup and that’s it. I’m excited to be sharing the cage with a veteran like her who’s been fighting for many years.”

Godinez feels no pressure ahead of the biggest fight of her young MMA career. She’s campaigned for a shot in the UFC for many months and can’t wait to prove to the UFC fanbase why she’s regarded by some as one of the best prospects in women’s strawweight.

“The truth is that I’m really happy and excited to start this new chapter of my career and I feel very relaxed,” Godinez explained. “This is just another fight for me, but in a different organization and I’m simply going to make more money and get seen by more people. I’m very relaxed and comfortable knowing I have the level to be in there. I’m just going to show it on Saturday.”