Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas has trained with women's bantamweight contender Raquel Pennington and was asked to weigh-in on Pennington's corner sending her out for the fifth round against champion Amanda Nunes in the UFC 224 main event on May 12.
Following the fourth round of the title fight, Pennington told her corner that she was done and wanted the fight to be over. Her corner encouraged her to "change her mindset," and go out in the final frame and throw everything she had left at Nunes. At the 2:36 mark of the fifth round, Nunes stopped Pennington. Immediately following the fight, fans and fighters criticized Pennington's corner.
Deciding whether to throw in the towel or encourage a fighter to press on isn't an easy decision. Every fighter is different. Every fight is unique.
“From knowing Raquel personally, I can see how that would be the case because there are times, just from watching her train, you can see when she’s not into it and then all of a sudden she just comes out of nowhere. So I can see from maybe that point of view from just knowing their fighter," Namajunas said about Pennington's corner allowing her to enter the fifth frame while appearing on the UFC Unfiltered podcast.
Pennington released a statement via her finacee, strawweight contender Tecia Torres, on Monday agreeing with her corner's decision.
“Both us and our coaches agree with the decision made to go into the 5th round,” Torres wrote on Instagram. “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.”
While Namajunas understands why Pennington's corner may have sent her back into battle after she said she was done, she hopes her corner wouldn't do the same if it were her in that situation.
“From my perspective, if I say that I’m done, I would hope and I trust that my corner would throw in the towel for me. It’s a tough situation. And when you’re getting beat up like that, it’s tough. I don’t know. I don’t know what the right thing to do is," she said. “For me, if I say that I’m done, I’m done.
“I will say, the circumstances, you have to treat each fight a little bit differently. It being a title fight, it being like Raquel is super experienced. Sometimes, I could tell just watching her train, sometimes she doesn’t seem like the most motivated and every once in a while she gets a spark in her. So those specific circumstances, I could see how that would play out, but at the same time, for me, I’m super paranoid about just the physical aspect of everything. For me, it’s a little bit different,” added Namajunas.
Pennington's corner have been heavily criticized for their decision, but it was a complicated situation. It was a title fight. It may have been the only opportunity Pennington will have to compete for the UFC world title.
“There are so many variables," said Namajunas. “That’s why it’s so important to know your fighter and have that personal connection with them and know all these things ahead of time.”