Raquel Pennington’s long-awaited shot at Amanda Nunes and the UFC women’s bantamweight title, which headlined UFC 224 last Saturday night, did not go the way she planned. Instead, she was thumped to a fifth-round stoppage by the champ Nunes.
Unfortunately, Pennington’s dashed title dreams were also accompanied by a significant dose of controversy, as she appeared to be forced off her stool by her corner between the fourth and fifth rounds after telling her coaches, point-blank, that she was “done.”
Despite the firestorm of criticism Raquel Pennington’s coaches have endured, the fighter herself says she supports their decision to send her out for a fifth round of battle.
“I’m actually proud of my coaches,” Pennington said on The MMA Hour this week (transcribed by Shaun Al-Shatti for MMA Fighting). “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 continued, clarifying that she agreed with her coaches the moment the fight was over.
“I agreed with my coaches as soon as the fight was done,” she 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.”
What did you think of the controversy surrounding Raquel Pennington’s corner at UFC 224?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/15/2018.