There’s no question that fighters are a special breed. The kind of personalities that lend themselves to a career of professional combat are not the kind prone to quitting on themselves, or accepting defeat easily. It should come as no surprise, then, that even after Raquel Pennington essentially quit on the stool, between rounds against Amanda Nunes at UFC 224, both she and her partner, UFC strawweight Tecia Torres, are at peace with the fact that her corner didn’t let her.
“I’m done. I’m done. I wanna be done. Yes,” Pennington could be heard telling her team after the 4th round of her UFC bantamweight title fight.
“I know. I know it hurts. Let’s power through this. Let’s believe. Change your mindset, change your mindset. Let’s just throw everything we’ve got. We’ll recover later,” her corner could be overheard telling their fighter, after initially replying with a quick stream of “no”s. The fight would be stopped just two and a half minutes later, with Pennington turtled up, hands covering her face, blood pouring from a broken nose, and shots raining down from behind her.
In the wake of the loss, the decision to push ‘Rocky’ back into the cage for a 5th round has sparked a lot of backlash from fans and pundits, and even a few other fighters. It’s a decision that seems to clearly fly in the face of protecting fighter safety. But, it may also be a decision that protected Pennington’s pride.
That was essentially the statement Torres made in a post on Instagram after the bout:
“PS: Both us and our coaches agree with the decision made to go into the 5th round,” Torres wrote on social media. “We know Raquel more than anyone else and know if we let her give up on herself going into the last round she would have always regretted it. She fought with heart and grit until the end.”
#Forever I am extremely proud of my lady. You are a warrior babe. Fought every second you possibly could. You continue to amaze me daily. You motivate me to work hard and one day too receive the same opportunity to fight for a UFC championship. We are the 1%ers. Very few will ever know what we go thru as fighters and an even smaller percentage will ever earn the chance to fight on such a big stage and for a world title. #RideOrDie #AlwaysProud PS: Both us and our coaches agree with the decision made to go into the 5th round. We know Raquel more than anyone else and know if we let her give up on herself going into the last round she would have always regretted it. She fought with heart and grit until the end. PSS: Exactly one year ago today you asked me to marry you, I can't freaking wait to wife you! @raquel_pennington
Hopefully for Pennington, the damage she took afterward doesn’t result in any lasting injury, and fans will get to see her back in the cage again soon. And in the meantime, this loss will likely serve as another piece in the debate over ‘throwing in the towel’ in MMA, and why so many corners refuse to do so under any circumstances.