Raquel Pennington has come out and defended her corner’s decision to send her out for the fifth round at UFC 224, and her head coach is also backing up the move.
Since Pennington was stopped by bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes on Saturday, what unfolded late in the bout has been a point of widespread discussion. After the fourth round, a battered Pennington was heard telling her coaches that she was “done”, and that she wanted out of the bout. Her head coach and cornerman, Jason Kutz, however, encouraged “Rocky” to focus on the fifth round and let it all go. Pennington, as you know, was bloodied further in the final frame and stopped.
Well, since then, Pennington has defended her team’s decision, and she reported she’s glad Kutz didn’t let her quit. Kutz also appeared on the latest “MMA Hour” this week, and here is some of what he had to say, about what transpired (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“What I’m going to say is, the way she said it, and more importantly, the look in her eye — that’s what I don’t think people understand,” Kutz said. “When you spend four hours a day doing what she does and doing what we do, I know her. I can read her face like a book. And I know that had she stopped [the fight] right then and there, and I’ve talked to her about this afterward — like, ‘Hey, in 10 years when you look back at this, I think you’d be kicking yourself in the pants had you not gone out there.’
“I knew it was going to take an extraordinary effort, because she had to stop Amanda. She had to do something huge, right? Something extra ordinary. And if I didn’t think that Raquel could do something extraordinary, then hey, we would’ve went the other way with it. And the thing is, like I said, the mentality of her at that moment, I just felt if she could somehow flip it around and go out there and do something extraordinary, we got a chance. And you know what? She trained her ass off for a long time to get this title shot, and in the fifth round of the title fight, I know her leg hurts, but hey, I thought that she could go out there and go.”
Kutz also said that he was unaware of the extent of the leg injury Pennington sustained early in the bout, via Nunes’ leg kicks. Kutz said he didn’t notice any “signs of dysfunction of the limb”. How seriously Pennington’s leg is, is not yet known.
So, it will be interesting to see how these comments from Kutz and Pennington, shape the discussion. Is what transpired more acceptable to critics now? Considering the insights Kutz has on Pennington? Or does the sport as a whole, have an issue with reading the writing on the wall, and accepting it, when a fighter is done?