The biggest story coming out of UFC 224 despite of 11 finishes out of 13 fights was a controversy. Challenger Raquel Pennington faced a gruesome injury to her nose by a severe blow from champion Amanda Nunes. After the fourth round, Pennington went to her corner and said “I’m done, I want to be done”. However head coach and cornerman Jason Kutz sent her back in the fifth round to face Nunes only to get brutally finished by her.
The incident caused fair amount of outrage on social media. Fighters like UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, Chael Sonnen, Brian Ortega went critical on Pennington’s coaches. Recalling the incident on the MMA hour, Pennington defended her coach’s decision and was rather happy that Kutz didn’t allow her to quit.
“I’m actually proud of my coaches,” Pennington said on The MMA Hour. “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.”
Pennington claimed that there came a point in the fifth round where “it just really felt like my knee was going to explode.” However Pennington was happy that she at least gave a try and never doubted Kutz’s decision.
“I agreed with my coaches as soon as the fight was done,” Pennington said. “I agreed with them in that moment, because at the end of the day, the ball’s still in my court. I could’ve easily waved off the fight. I could’ve sat down and tapped out. But I choose not to. I choose to pull my head out of my ass, basically, and not give up on myself. Because at the end of the day, when you give up, it’s a whole different ballgame there. Quitting’s not an option in that aspect, and in that moment, I was quitting on myself. And that’s when a coach steps in and they push their athlete.
“I would’ve been mad,” Pennington added, “and I would’ve been more mad at myself, so I’m glad that my coaches didn’t let me give up on myself.”