In one of the more controversial stories of the past few months, Raquel Pennington’s head coach Jason Kutz told Raquel Pennington to keep fighting after she claimed she was “done,” heading into the final round of her title fight at UFC 224.
The decision amidst of the bantamweight title fight against Amanda Nunes, created a firestorm that Kutz attempted to remedy on The MMA Hour on Monday.
“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,” Kutz said. “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.”
Pennington let it be known on Monday, that she said she was done was due to a leg injury she suffered early in the first round, and was getting flashbacks of a broken leg she suffered last October in an ATV accident. Pennington called the pain “excruciating” and admitted that she became nauseous after being kicked for the second time. Kutz claimed that he and Pennington’s coaching staff knew that her leg was hurt, but didn’t know the severity of the injury.
“That goes back to her movement, her stance, this and that. She, to me, was not showing any signs of dysfunction of the limb,” Kutz said. “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.”
“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?’” Kutz said. “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.
The disappointment still stings, but Team Pennington is looking to move on to the next opportunity.
“I made the decision,” Kutz said. “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.”
Original Story: MMA Fighting