100 Women We Love: Class of 2017

Every June, GO compiles a select list of talented tastemakers, influencers and all-around inspirational women who are making their mark on the LGBT community and on the world at large.

Raquel “Rocky” Pennington

Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

“I grew up being a huge tomboy,” says Raquel “Rocky” Pennington. “Always very athletic and into my sports. [I] wanted to box at a younger age, but my parents wouldn’t allow me to, so I focused on basketball, softball and my academics. … One day I watched MMA [mixed martial arts] on TV, which led me to training. [I] fell in love and haven’t stopped since.” The 28-year-old is currently the number four-ranking UFC women’s bantamweight and is, according to the UFC, the “fourth fighter in UFC history to win a fight by technical submission using a bulldog choke.” She’s emerged the champion in battles against Jessica Andrade, Miesha Tate and Beth Correia, among others, and, tells GO she’s planning on opening a gym that will focus on “all aspects of fitness, not just MMA.” Both Pennington and fiancée Tecia Torres, also a UFC fighter, are out, but coming out was not so easy for Pennington. “I was raised Catholic and my family always knew I was a tomboy, but when I started to come out, it took a huge toll on my relationship with my mother. … After that episode [Pennington’s coming-out episode in the reality series ‘The Ultimate Fighter’], thousands of people from around the world wrote me, sharing their stories. … I think after my family saw the positive responses they knew it would be OK to let me finally be me.” —GH

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