Raquel Pennington will have her fiancee, fellow fighter Tecia Torres, at cageside as she takes on UFC Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes on Saturday at UFC 224 in Brazil. Pennington, 28, and Torres, got engaged in 2017. Known as “The Tiny Tornado,” Torres fights in the UFC strawweight division, just like Nunes’ girlfriend, Nina Ansaroff. Here’s what you need to know about Torres:
1. Torres Has Been in the UFC Since 2013 & Has a 10-2 Record as a Pro MMA Fighter
Tecia Torres has been in the UFC since 2013 and has been a professional MMA fighter since 2014. She has a record of 10 wins and 2 losses, with victories over Michelle Waterson, Julianna Lima, Bec Rawlings, Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger, Angela Hill and Angela Magana in UFC competition. She also defeated Felice Herrig, Rose Namajunas and Paige VanZant while in Invicta FC. Her two losses came against Rose Namajunas, in a 2016 UFC rematch, and against Jéssica Andrade in February 2018.
Torres was part of The Ultimate Fighter in 2014 as the reality show was used to crown the first strawweight champion in UFC history. Torres lost to Ronda Markos, but was brought back for another fight because of an injury to another fighter and defeated Rawlings. She then lost to Carla Esparza in the quarterfinals, but received a UFC contract and fought Magana at the televised finale, earning her first UFC win in her official debut.
Torres trains along with her fiancee, Raquel Pennington, at Triple Threat Gym in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Pennington serves as her coach. Torres told the Orlando Sentinel in January that the two share a competitive fire. They start each day with a dice game or card game before their workout.
“If she doesn’t win, she doesn’t let me leave breakfast until she wins,” Torres told the newspaper. “It’s just in your nature when you’re an athlete to be competitive in everything.” She said they also get competitive while sparring and working out and it can be hard to turn that off.
“It becomes kind of a struggle sometimes, the coach/partner relationship, because it’s hard to separate the gym and home life,” Pennington told the Sentinel. “Sometimes in the gym I might not be the best student, then at home, I just want to be your partner, not the not-best student you had today.
The two are unlikely to meet in the UFC, with Torres fighting in the 115-pound strawweight division and Pennington in the 135-pound bantamweight division. But Torres has credited Pennington with helping her career move forward.
“What’s better than having one of the best in the world to train you?” Torres told the Sentinel. “Luckily, she’s in a different weight class, so we can have the same goal and make both of our dreams happen.”
2. Pennington Proposed to Her Girlfriend, Torres, in 2017 After They Had Been Dating for About a Year
Pennington and Torres have trained together and have been friends for several years, and began dating around 2016. In May 2017, Pennington proposed to Torres.
“She asked, I said YES!!!! #Engaged —- Our love began unexpectedly. It started as a crush and grew into an amazing love,” Torres wrote on Instagram. “In this moment you made my dreams for us come true. Everyday you show me a love so true and pure. I am blessed to wake up to you every morning and fall asleep in your arms at night. I can’t wait to become Mrs. Pennington. 💚💜 I love you with my everything!! Always!”
Pennington wrote on her Instagram page, “Couldn’t be anymore complete. She said YES!!! And we had and amazing day with all our wonderful friends and family celebrating our new home.”
The couple lives together in Colorado, where Pennington, whose nickname is “Rocky,” is originally from. Their wedding plans are not yet set. Pennington joked last year that she is letting Torres handle that.
Pennington told FloCombat in 2016 that she is appreciative of how the UFC supports its LGBT fighters, like her and Torres.
“I think a lot of people are nervous to stand for who they are. I’m definitely not one of those people. It’s nice to be around other athletes who are proud in the own skin and stuff, and it’s great that we have an organization that supports us,” Pennington said. “It’s something I kinda always knew. My family is Catholic and stuff, so it wasn’t something that they were exactly expecting. I just kinda denied it for a really long time because of my family because I was trying to figure things out for myself. I always had an idea though, and finally it just got to the point where I wasn’t going to have a boyfriend to pretend anymore and I just wanted to be me.”
Pennington’s fight against Nunes will be the first UFC title fight between two openly gay athletes.
3. Torres Is a Massachusetts Native & Practiced Taekwando as a Child
Tecia Torres was born in Fall River, Massachusetts. She began practicing martial arts, specifically taekwando, at the age of 3, and was also an amateur muay thai fighter before getting into MMA.
“I did karate from 5-17 then started kickboxing when I was 18. That eventually turned into BJJ, then MMA. Martial Arts has always been a passion of mine. It’s a way of discipline and respect,” she says on the UFC website. “I am a black belt in Jhoon-Rhee Taekwondo. I’m currently a blue belt in BJJ. As an amateur fighter I was a four-time world kickboxing champ & three-time amateur MMA champion, eventually earning the #1 amateur spot before turning pro.”
While making her way to the UFC, Torres worked in customer care for a cruise line, according to the UFC website. She said making it to the UFC “was a childhood dream come true.”
4. She Completed Her Master’s Degree in Criminology While Fighting in the UFC
Torres graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2010 with degrees in sociology and criminal justice, according to the UFC website. She was only 20 and was one of the youngest members of her graduating class. While fighting in the UFC, Torres continued her studies at Florida Atlantic, eventually graduating with a master’s degree in criminology in 2016.
“I had to schedule girl time months in advance. That was really hard,” Torres told Bloody Elbow in 2016. “But I got it down, and I’m able to work things out with my coaches, and sometimes they understand that I have to leave a practice early because I need more time to study or I have to change things up because something came up with a class that was unexpected.”
She told the Orlando Sentinel in 2018, “Prior to getting back into college, I had lots of free time, so I was like, ahhh, I’ve always wanted a master’s, let’s go do it. As soon as I signed up, I had no time. The one fight I did take during that time, I did lose. It was my one loss. I wouldn’t say it was because of the schooling. I was just more in my head that fight,. But when I was at that fight, I was trying to cut weight, do my final exams, my final essays and see my family. It was a lot to take on, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Torres hopes to work in law enforcement when her UFC career comes to a close.
“My ultimate goal would be to work within the federal government. Anywhere from working with juveniles, to immigration issues, and sex trafficking, those three are my main interests.” Torres told Bloody Elbow. “I just really enjoy having the opportunity to help people one day. And I think doing something within the federal government is a good secure job, so I just want to have a good job to feed a family one day.”
5. Torres Is Scheduled to Face Joanna Jedrzejczyk on July 28
Tecia Torres is scheduled to fight Joanna Jedrzejczyk on July 28, 2018, in what will be one of her biggest fights of her career.
She will look to rebound from her loss to Jessica Andrade, but will have a tough task against Jedrzejczyk, the former UFC women’s strawweight champion. Jedrzejczyk is coming off of back-to-back losses against Rose Namajunas, but is still considered to be one of the top female fighters in the world. The fight will take place on UFC on Fox 30 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.