Raquel Pennington's head coach explains controversial decision not to stop fight

Pennington wanted to throw in the towel

After responding to Raquel Pennington's assertion that she was "done" by convincing her to go back out for the fifth and final round against Amanda Nunes at Saturday's UFC 224, the fighter's coaches were widely criticized for unnecessarily, and possibly recklessly, subjecting her to further punishment from the heavily favored bantamweight champion.

But instead of throwing in the towel, Pennington's cornerman Jason Kutz ignored her plea to end the fight.

UFC 224 has been one of the most controversial events when it comes to a title shot. So when she said she wanted out, there was an overwhelming sense that her coaches were in the wrong to tell her otherwise. "It was going to require extraordinary effort on her part to stop Amanda". She's very durable and she'd been doing really well up until that point - not necessarily winning but she wasn't out of the fight. I could have easily waved off the fight. She knows. I think that's huge. She went out there and she got finished.

Monday, Pennington joined the "MMA Hour" with Ariel Helwani, and maybe to the shock of some, defended her coaches' decision to allow her to continue.

Pennington's corner let her down. "I feel like I match-up so well with the current [UFC] champ Amanda Nunes and so I just needed to prove to myself, prove to everyone, that my performances speak for themselves and I wanted the finish". I think she really needs to surround herself with the people who want the best for her so she can evolve in her next fights. You listen and tell the referee that you'd like to stop the fight, period.

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"In my mind, I had it as more of a mental battle than physical battle for her going into the fifth round". Do as they ask. "I felt it the minute I stood back up", Pennington said. That eventually changed to mount and ultimately produced an armbar attempt, but through it all, Gastelum remained calm, made the right adjustments and advanced to the end of the round. While her nose appeared badly damaged during the fight, her greater concern was a left leg which she broke in an October ATV accident and which Nunes quickly attacked Saturday.

It wasn't the kind of blistering performance that he likely wanted, but Gastelum did enough to get the win and in beating Souza, has put himself in a position to challenge the victor of next month's championship clash between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. The trouble is that the evening's performance change what happened the day before, when Dern missed weight by more than seven pounds, marking the third time in six strawweight appearances that the 25-year-old has missed the 115-pound mark. Nobody tied her hands behind her back and shoved her out there.

For the champion, this was a very unique experience in fighting a friend and one she wasn't used to as she continued on.

But it's imperative that she gets her weight-cutting issues under control and show a more professional approach to her craft going forward.

It's sad because you could avoid something. It was also the second time Machida dispatched a retiring fighter in such a manner, as the Brazilian veteran did the same to Randy Couture at UFC 129.

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