Amanda Nunes gradually inflicted more and more damage on Raquel Pennington as their UFC 224 headlining bout progressed, so much so that Pennington didn’t want to continue after the fourth round.
In her corner before the final frame, Pennington told her coaches that she was “done.” However, her team urged her to continue, telling the bantamweight “we’ll recover later.” Pennington didn’t have much to offer Nunes in round five, as her nose appeared to be broken and was bleeding profusely.
The Brazilian champion finished off her victory with a barrage of ground-and-pound. Pennington, who was gushing blood, could only cover up until referee Marc Goddard stepped in to wave off the fight at the 2:36 mark of round five.
Nunes wasn’t aware of the exchange between Pennington and her corner until after the fight.
“It’s sad. Nina [Ansaroff] told me in the locker room. I didn’t even know,” Nunes said at the post-fight press conference. “It’s sad because you could avoid something. She went to the hospital. It might be a bad injury for her to go to the hospital.
“If she didn’t have the right condition to fight, her coach should have thrown in the towel for sure,” Nunes continued. “I think my coach wouldn’t have let me go through that. It’s sad. But everyone must be saying a lot of bad things about him on social media. I think she should surround herself with people that want the best for her so she can evolve in her next fights. Unfortunately, tonight he failed.”
Nunes could sense that Pennington might be losing her will to compete as she began to land knees in the clinch in the fight’s later rounds. It was one of those blows that likely broke Pennington ‘s nose.
“Yes, when I started to work the knees in the clinch, there was a time when it really landed on her nose and I saw it, and I felt that it broke,” Nunes said. “When she looked at me, her nose was already bleeding a lot. That’s when I started to exploit it. It’s sad to say that, but it’s a fight. I need to defend my belt. I needed to use her weakness at that moment to be able to come out with a win. When I saw the nose, I knew that it was broken. It was bleeding a lot. That’s when it became my focus. Also the kicks to the legs, it was something that I use a lot. But I saw that she was very injured.”
While Nunes didn’t necessarily want to do further damage to an already injured opponent, it was her job to finish the fight and retain her belt. In MMA, strange things can happen when a fighter lets up at any time. Still, “Lioness” puts the onus on Pennington’s coach for allowing that final round to occur.
“A fight’s a fight. Some athletes come back in the last round. You have to maintain your focus and that’s what I did,” Nunes said. “When I threw my last elbow that’s when I really felt that it’s over, and she gave me her back. I was able to finish the fight.
“It’s very sad. He should have listened to her in that moment. It’s important to have that friendship with your coach and for the coach to understand the athlete. That’s why I bond so well with my coaches and it’s working out. I hope going forward she can be with people that understand, people that are with her 100 percent.”