UFC women’s bantamweight Raquel Pennington went toe-to-toe with reigning champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 224 in a match that would ultimately stir up controversy. Now Pennington’s head coach Jason Kutz has come forward with a few statements concerning the matter.
Nunes was seemingly putting on a dominant performance over her opponent for much of the fight. With a severely bruised up leg and a broken nose, Pennington informed her corner in between the fourth and final round that she was “done.”
Rather than throwing in the towel, the fighter’s corner convinced her to compete in the final round. Nunes would go on to earn a TKO victory over Pennington.
Speaking on the latest edition of The MMA Hour, Kutz offered an explanation for the controversial decision to convince Pennington to continue 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. 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.”
“That goes back to her movement, her stance, this and that. She, to me, was not showing any signs of dysfunction of the limb. Yeah, it hurt, but as far as gimping and limping on it, I didn’t see it. If you look at the beginning of the round, she’s moving again and she was light on her feet. I was like, ‘Okay, okay.’ And then obviously things didn’t work out, the way it was, but at that moment what do I have? A half a second to give some advice there? That’s what I thought … and looking into her eyes and seeing it on her face, that’s what I felt needed to happen.
“And in my opinion, she did turn it around mentally, did a 180, and started the fifth round. I’m ridiculously proud of that. And I know a lot of people think I just threw her to the wolves there, but you know, it’s hard, and I know how tough she can be.”
“I would say the only thing that I could’ve said differently is maybe put it back into her court a little bit, and said like, ‘Do you really want me to stop this fight?’ That’s hindsight, but again, because that throws it right back on her, and then she says yes, it’s over. But when she says, ‘I don’t want to do this, my leg hurts,’ my first initial reaction is, ‘Okay, yeah, your leg hurts, let’s power through this.’ Honestly, that’s what I was going with, and I didn’t want her to stop the fight because her leg hurt. And granted, we already discussed that I knew it hurt, but the nausea and this and that, I wasn’t really aware of at that moment. … I didn’t know that. I’ll speak to what I did know and I’ll stick with that.”
“I don’t subscribe to that at all, especially with Raquel and now working with Tecia either. We’ve never discussed money. That’s not why she does it. She doesn’t fight for money. I don’t coach her for money. None of the other coaches coach her for money. If I were to make a decision based on money, whether on her getting more or myself getting more, if I make a decision like that based on money, dude, fire me. I quit. That’s not it at all. Zero chance money had anything to do with that.”
“I also think that it could be different had Raquel been a guy, and then [us] saying that. I think things would get looked at a little different. And I’ve had that conversation with Raquel and I know how tough she is, I’m not going to treat her any different than I would treat a guy. So, that’s where we’re at on that.”
“I made the decision. I’m not regretting that decision at all. The coaching staff isn’t regretting it. But most importantly, Raquel is not regretting it. So there you have it. We’re going to move forward and learn and grow from this, and keep on keeping on.”