Raquel Pennington didn’t seem to want to continue Saturday night in between the fourth and fifth rounds at UFC 224. She told the coaches that she was “done.”
The coaches in her corner, though, told Pennington to carry on and “we’ll recover later.” Pennington went out for the fifth round and ended up getting stopped via TKO by Amanda Nunes in the main event of the card in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
At the end, Pennington was left in a pool of her own blood, likely with a broken nose. Many, including Pennington’s fighter peers, were wondering what the use was of sending her back out for the fifth round when she was obviously down on the cards.
Nunes, who retained the UFC women’s bantamweight title, was one of those who criticized Pennington’s team Saturday night.
“Everyone must be saying a lot of bad things about them on social media, but I think she really needs to surround herself with people that want the best for her, so she can evolve in her next fights,” Nunes said at the post-fight press conference. “Unfortunately, tonight he failed.”
Nunes said she didn’t know about what happened in the corner until she was told by her girlfriend Nina Ansaroff afterward. Pennington, Nunes said, had to go to the hospital.
“It’s sad, because you could avoid something,” Nunes said. “She went to the hospital. It might be a bad injury for her to go to the hospital. I already asked Nina to text her to find out if she needs anything, I’m here. And it’s sad. If she didn’t have the right conditioning to fight, then the coach should have thrown in the towel, for sure. I think my coach wouldn’t let me go through that.”
The situation is personal for Nunes and Ansaroff. They were longtime training partners of Tecia Torres, Pennington’s fiancée, at American Top Team before Torres went to live with Pennington in Colorado.
In the cage, following Nunes’ victory, she brought Ansaroff and Torres into the cage and stood with them and Pennington for her post-fight interview. Nunes, who was competing in her home country for the first time in three years, said it was the hardest fight of her career, because of the relationship they all have.
“I never fight with somebody that’s a friend,” Nunes said. “This is the first time ever. I respect those girls so much, especially Tecia. She used to train with us. It was very hard for me — for me, for Nina — to look [at] those girls wherever we go, where we see them. It was very hard for me, this fight. It was the most hard of my career to fight this girl, because we have that respect. I like those girls so much and it was hard for me.
“But I wanted to win and defend this belt, something I dreamed about for so long. I have to do it. But right now, we are friends. We’re gonna leave this cage, we’re gonna have a beer in celebration of our friendship. Tonight was my belt, but the first thing was the respect and the friendship we have.”