UFC 224 has been one of the most controversial events when it comes to a title shot. Raquel Pennington clearly said she is done but her pleas were ignored.
Her head coach Jason Kutz has become very popular as a subject of criticism overnight. He pressed “Rocky” to push to her limits and continue fighting versus Amanda Nunes in the fifth round. Miesha Tate stood by Pennington’s corner side, alongside Tecia Torres.
After 48 hours, Raquel Pennington talks about the controversy, defending her team! Surprisingly, she is very grateful to them for not letting her give up! (via MMAMania.com)
“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,” she added as transcribed via MMA Fighting.
“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.”
Lioness’ brutal leg kicks were creating problems for Raquel Pennington and even dropped her in the early stages of the game. Amanda Nunes felt blood and kept attacking on and on. According to Rocky, the unreal amount of pain was coming from the leg she broke in a horrible accident last October.
“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,” she added.
Despite she felt her knee might pop up any time, Raquel Pennington is very happy because she didn’t give up then.
“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.”
Nunes shifted into sixth gear early in the fifth round, battering Rocky and forcing her to receive more and more brutal incoming strikes. The referee stopped the fight, and Raquel Pennington ended up with a busted nose and leg, and two swollen black eyes.
“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,” she said. Still, the backlash, according to Pennington, has taken a toll on her coaches.
“My coaches are pretty emotional about the whole thing,” Pennington said. “They’re just as emotionally invested as I am, and it’s not something that’s easy on them, and especially when people are commenting and making some comments and stuff. Me and my head coach, we had a talk and he’s like, ‘You know I have your best interest at heart. Like, I love you like you’re my daughter, I would never put you in a bad situation.’ And I’m the one who had to talk him out of things, because he was pretty devastated. And I told him, ‘You pushed me to be the better athlete. You didn’t let me give up on myself, because if I gave up on myself, it would be a whole different ballgame. And so the fact that you were there for me, because you know me best in these situations, I couldn’t be more proud.”
“So they’re struggling, but they just have to keep their heads up too, because at the end of the day, they’re a hell of a coaching staff and I love them all” she added.
Raquel Pennington simply wants critics to stop. She claims the fight is tough by itself. Rocky is very proud of herself for all the efforts she put in.
“At the end of the day, quitting like that on yourself — it would’ve been more brutal if they would’ve sat there and threw the towel in, instead of actually letting me make the decision that I made in the fifth round. So, stop judging from the outside, because you’ll never understand what goes on unless you’re in our shoes and in our position.”
Raquel Pennington was on the major crossroad, the choice between the spirits of Spartans and the decision of a reasonable commander. Looks like her Spartan side won this time. At least now you know why her nickname is Rocky!