There is a bit of a shakeup to the upcoming UFC 273 card. As a late-minute replacement, former title contender Raquel Pennington will be stepping in to face Aspen Ladd. Ladd was originally set to face Irene Aldana, but she has been forced out of the bout due to undisclosed reasons, first reported by MMA Fighting.
Pennington is coming into this matchup with Ladd having won her last three bouts. Her most recent victory came back in December when she finished Macy Chiasson by second-round submission. That bout with Chiasson was the first bout at featherweight for Pennington, who has spent her UFC career to this point at bantamweight. She is expected to return to bantamweight for this bout with Ladd.
Ladd’s last outing was also at featherweight. The move up in weight was a response to Ladd missing weight just a few weeks earlier at the bantamweight limit. It seemed at the time that Ladd could be forced to compete at 145 pounds going forward due to her past troubles with weight cutting, but then she was booked at 135 pounds for this UFC 273 card. Ladd began her UFC career with three wins in a row and looked to be quickly making a name for herself in the division. Now she has lost two of her last three and has slowed her descent up the rankings.
Taking on a seasoned vet like Pennington could be a tough test for Ladd. Pennington is currently sitting in the number seven spot in the rankings, and with Ladd at number four, could be a stepping stone to get back into the top five. Both of these ladies have title aspirations and a win could put either of them in a great position to get their name in the conversation for the winner of Pena vs. Nunes 2 happening later this year.