UFC 171 Date: March 15, 2014 Arena: American Airlines Center City: Dallas, TX Women’s Bantamweight bout: Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (+240) vs Jessica Andrade (-300) Fight Breakdown: The UFC 171 preliminary card on FOX Sports 2 will feature a women’s bantamweight bout between Invicta veteran Raquel “Rocky” Pennington and the Brazilian, Jessica Andrade. Raquel is the underdog heading into this scrap at +240 ($100 to win $240), with Andrade being the favorite at -300 ($100 to win $300) at Several Bookmakerss. RAQUEL “ROCKY” PENNINGTON (4-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) is making her return to the Octagon following a unanimous decision victory over fellow TUF 18 contestant and women’s MMA veteran, Roxanne Modafferi. “Rocky” dominated the fight, but seemed to have some Octagon jitters, as she was holding back on some of her punches. Nonetheless, it was an impressive debut for the Colorado native. The victory over Modafferi put her back in the win column, as she had suffered back to back losses to Cat Zingano and Leslie Smith under the Invicta banner. The 25-year old has solid wrestling skills. She is very strong, and is good at taking her opponents down once she gets a hold of them, though she is not as good as keeping them down there and doing damage. Pennington fights well on her feet, as she possesses real power in her hands. Her boxing is good and improving; when she connects, her opponents really feel it. She is strong enough to put just about any lady at 135 to sleep in front of a sold out crowd, but she lacks that killer instinct. She does not really go for the knockout finish, and often freezes, so it goes without saying that my main concern with “Rocky” is her mental focus. One thing I’m not worried about, however, is her cardio, as I think she will be able to go all three frames of action without tiring. Regardless of how good Andrade’s conditioning will be, I think Pennington will have her bested in that department as they head into this preliminary card bout. JESSICA ANDRADE (10-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) made UFC history in her promotional debut at UFC on FOX 8 nearly eight months ago, becoming the first female Brazilian fighter to compete inside the Octagon. Unfortunately, she came up short, as Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche got the better of her on the mat, finding her way in mount position and raining down punches until the referee stepped in to call off the action. The punches were very weak and seemed to not be effective at all, but I suppose it does not make much sense to allow a fight to continue in such a position. Andrade bounced back strong after that loss with a very dominant and one-sided unanimous decision win over Rosi Sexton. The Brazilian is a resilient fighter who can take punishment and dish it out. She is determined, hungry, and game for war. Her striking is mediocre at best, but ever-improving. The 22-year old is not very technical, but she packs some power behind all of her strikes. On the ground, she is talented with her submission game. The fact that she owns half of her professional mixed martial arts career wins by way of submission reflects that sentiment. Andrade has only gone the distance three times in her professional career, but I don’t expect cardio to be an issue with her, especially since it was not an issue in her last outing. The fact that she is a natural flyweight who does not cut much weight to make the women’s bantamweight limit should help her conditioning as well. Fight Prediction: As long as Pennington does not get stuck in her own head and starts letting her hands go, while mixing in takedowns, I think she could handily take this match-up, especially considering her size advantage. Gabe’s Pick: Raquel Pennington by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Raquel Pennington (+240) 3.75u to win 9u for a big value play, as I think she should be a -180 favorite heading into this match-up. The only reason I’m not throwing an extra 1.25u (to 5u to win 12u) is because of the possibility that she gets stuck in her own head during the fight, while Andrade gets the better of her. At +240, I feel the minimum would be to bet 3u, so 3.75u to win 9u seems perfect.