The decision to send a battered and beaten Raquel Pennington out for the fifth round of Saturday’s UFC 224 headliner against Amanda Nunes has been the subject of much debate.
Nunes, who had dominated the fight from the opening bell, pounced on a weary Pennington in the final round and delivered multiple blows to her face that left a pool of blood on the mat and secured a TKO victory for the champion.
The controversy is centered on the break after the fourth round in which Pennington, apparently having suffered a broken nose, told her corner that she wanted to quit. Her coach, Jason Kutz, implored her to return for the fifth round, where the literal blood bath ensued.
— FloCombat (@FloCombat) May 13, 2018
Raquel Pennington speaks on decision to keep fighting for first time
While many have called Kutz irresponsible for sending her back out, Pennington left little doubt on Monday in an interview with “The MMA Hour” that she agreed with the call, despite the beating that she suffered.
Per “The MMA Hour”:
“I’m actually proud of my coaches. I know a lot of people are going against what they said and thinking all this different stuff, and it’s easy to judge, but you never know what’s happening in that moment. At the end of the day, my coaches know me best. They know my toughness and they know what I can handle, and I trust my coaches with everything that I have, and I know they wouldn’t put me in a situation that I can’t handle. I was going through a moment where I was obviously frustrated because of the facts with my legs. I was scared to step in and actually let my hands go, because the minute I would start to close the distance, Amanda would attack the leg.
Those initial kicks really got me to a point where I started to break for a second, and the minute that I turned around and told my coaches that, and then I actually turned around and looked at my head coach and looked him in the eyes, I knew it still had it within me.”
Amanda Nunes: Pennington’s corner should have thrown in the towel
Nunes, who reached out to Pennington and embraced her in the fight’s aftermath, was critical of Kutz for the decision to send her back out in Saturday’s post-fight news conference.
“I think she really needs to surround herself with people that want the best for her, so she can evolve in her next fights,” Nunes said. “Unfortunately, tonight he failed. … It’s sad. If she didn’t have the right conditioning to fight, then the coach should have thrown in the towel, for sure. I think my coach wouldn’t let me go through that.”
The counter argument of course is that Pennington’s coaches know her better than Nunes, fans and media who have criticized the decision and knew what they were doing when they convinced her to keep fighting.
But in the end, it’s hard to argue with the pool of blood that Pennington left on the mat in Rio de Janeiro.
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