With Amanda Nunes now being retired and no longer around to terrorize the UFC's female bantamweight division, our Pennington vs Silva prediction will mark a fresh start for the UFC's female 135 pounders.
While UFC 297 in Toronto should be chalk-full of thrilling fights, one bout that should provide some extra excitement is this vacant bantamweight title fight between two battle-tested warriors at the top of their respective games. Although one of these fighters may be looking to wrestle her way to victory, her opponent surely intends to finish this fight in devastating fashion and leave Toronto, Canada with a shiny new belt wrapped around her waist — and our Raquel Pennington vs Mayra Bueno Silva prediction will let you know whether she'll be able to do so.
UFC 297: Pennington vs Silva Prediction
Raquel Pennington Preview
While she isn't known to be the most exciting fighter on the roster, nobody can question the longevity of Raquel “Rocky” Pennington — a fighter with a 15-8 professional record, which includes one KO and five submission victories. That being said, the five-fight win streak that Pennington is currently on has made vacant title shot well deserved — and should make any Pennington vs Silva prediction a tough one to make.
The most impressive win by far during Pennington's current win streak came in December 2021, when she submitted Macy Chiasson with a Guillotine choke in the second round.
While finishes aren't something Pennington produces often, every other moment of that fight shows how Pennington has gotten to the title: her dominance on the ground. Against every opponent she's faced in the midst of this current streak, Pennington has a wrestling and grappling advantage; which she is fantastic at using to her advantage.
Considering that exposing her opponents' inferiority on the ground tends to always be Pennington's game plan, our Pennington vs Silva prediction is that we expect that to remain the case this weekend. Pennington will likely be looking to take Silva down and keep her there for as long as possible, stealing rounds and tiring Silva out. While this might not be the most exciting outcome for the fans in attendance at UFC 297, Pennington may very well win the bantamweight belt this way.
Mayra Bueno Silva Preview
Mayra Bueno Silva — a fighter with a 10-2-1 professional record, which includes one KO and seven submission victories — has burst onto the UFC scene over the last two years, and is now one win away from holding UFC gold. Although her last fight against Holly Holm was recently overturned to a no contest, the three victories she had amassed prior to that bout — two of which came by submission — showcased how she could become the new queen of the bantamweight division.
Her most recent victory by finish came against Lina Länsberg in February 2023, when she strung together an impressive knee bar finish in the second round — which also showed why Silva is the favorite this weekend.
While Mayra Bueno Silva does have more submission victories on her record than Pennington, her clearest path to victory in this vacant bantamweight title fight would be to keep Raquel Pennington on her feet, and make it a striking battle.
The main reason being that, as we've already noted, Pennington will most likely have a wrestling advantage in this fight — and is adept at amassing ground control time to win rounds (and fights). Our Pennington vs Silva prediction is that the best way for Silva to avoid this fate would be to keep the fight on the feet by any means necessary.
If Silva can manage to do this, we don't see a scenario where UFC 297 ends without her being crowned the new 135 pound champion.
Raquel Pennington vs Mayra Bueno Silva: Silva via Something Exciting
Our official Pennington vs Silva prediction is that Mayra Bueno Silva will win by finish.
Considering both of these fighters' styles, the fight will most likely get to the ground at some point. Therefore, we think Silva, who is a jiu jitsu specialist, could very well secure an impressive submission victory over Pennington — which is currently available at +165 — and earn a performance bonus on top of her initial payout in the process.
Yet, although she only has one such victory, we also see a path where Silva could earn a KO/TKO victory here, as well, if she sticks to our imagined game plan and keeps the fight standing — which you can grab for +700.
If Raquel Pennington is to win this fight, it will most likely be via decision — which you can find at +200. While we can certainly see this fight potentially playing out with her getting the win this way, we think Silva is too talented to not emerge as the champion on Saturday.
Regardless of who ends up getting their hand raised, with Amanda Nunes no longer in the UFC, the winner of this vacant title fight will mark the start of a new era for 135 pounds.