Raquel Pennington’s corner took a verbal lashing after not stopping her UFC 224 title fight against champion Amanda Nunes.
“Rocky” told her coaches that she was “done” in between the fourth and fifth round after apparently suffering a badly broken nose due to a torrent of knees from Nunes in addition to a knee injury, yet her coach Jason Kutz urged her to fight on. In the days since Nunes has blasted the decision to let her get finished while Pennington’s girlfriend Tecia Torres and Pennington herself have come to Kutz’s side.
Now, Kutz finally told his side of the story on why he didn’t throw in the towel before the last round during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour this week:
“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. 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.”
After staying quiet for a day, Pennington adamantly defended Kutz, a former Division-I wrestling coach at two universities, in the aftermath of her TKO loss to Nunes. The stakes were clearly higher than a normal fight with the title on the line, which obviously played a role in Kutz’s decision to convince his fighter to go for one more round.
While there was little chance she would pull out a Hail Mary win due to the fact she had been thoroughly dominated by ‘The Lioness’ throughout the first four rounds, Pennington is ultimately a fighter and was glad her coach motivated her to go out on her shield.
Do you agree with Pennington’s coach as to why he didn’t stop the fight?