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Raquel Pennington’s Unnecessary Punishment Shines Light On Cornermen

On Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a main event turned into a main tragedy during UFC 224's championship bout.

On Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a main event turned into a main tragedy during UFC 224’s championship bout. Amanda Nunes took on Raquel Pennington for the UFC women’s bantamweight belt and not only were the odds stacked against her from being on Nunes’ home turf but also because her trainers apparently acted like her enemy in a pivotal moment.

The fight was all Nunes from the start as Pennington was instantly neutralized from the sound of the opening round bell. As the rounds peeled off and the bout entered the fourth of a scheduled five rounds, it became hard to watch Pennington take so much punishment. 

UFC 224: Amanda Nunes Octagon Interview

Amanda Nunes defended her title once again and chatted with Jon Anik inside the Octagon. Subscribe to get all the latest UFC content: http://bit.ly/2uJRzRR Experience UFC live with UFC FIGHT PASS, the digital subscription service of the UFC.

At the end of the fourth, a discouraged Raquel Pennington told her corner clearly, Im done. I want to be done. It was so clear that all of Twitter and the world heard it and agreed 100% with Pennington. In fact, the only people who heard but didn’t agree were her cornermen.


With a broken nose, her eyes almost shut, and a swollen mouth, Team Pennington failed its star by ignoring her pleas and condemning her to more punishment like a disgruntled parent forcing a child to play football after a concussion.


Power through, change [her] mindset, and recover later were the edicts delivered by her Colorado Springs-based training team and it was enough motivation that Pennington heeded and got off her stool to continue the massacre. Finally, the fight ended with Pennington getting TKOd, and sent to the hospital for observation after the world collectively gasped that the fight was still even occurring.

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I’m done!” Corner: “No, no, no, no.” Raquel Pennington is finished in the fifth round just moments after telling her corner “I’m done” #UFC224 https://t.co/wU52xiCaLE

Its sad because you could avoid something, Nunes said about Penningtons corner. She went to the hospital. It might be a bad injury. … Its sad. If she didnt have the right conditioning to fight, the coach should have thrown in the towel for sure. I think my coach wouldnt have let me go through that.


Its sad. … I think she really needs to surround herself with people that want the best for her so she can evolve in her next fight. Unfortunately, tonight he failed.

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Incidents like Pennington’s beg the question, what qualifies as a cornerman, a referee, or a State Athletic Commission decision when it comes to saving the life and health of a fighter. Pennington should fire her trainers, for sure, however, what was the Commission and the referee thinking as the fight went into the final round? There was absolutely no way Pennington could have climbed out of the hole in the fight without a dramatic fight-ending KO and the odds of Pennington having such luck was slim to none. 


The Brazilian Athletic Commission usually is bolstered by the recommendations of UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Ratner, who is also the former Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Ratner oversaw the biggest fights of the eighties and nineties as a Commissioner and the UFC was smart enough to hire him to make MMA legal in all States and help regulations in other countries. However, when to alert a referee or a doctor on when a fight has gone too far might be lacking from the protocol of Brazilian athletic regulation.  

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It is reminiscent of the fateful night five years ago at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden when boxer Magomed Abdulsalamov got into deep water in his bout against Mike Perez. In a largely one-sided fight, which was scored seven rounds to three on two scorecards, Abdusalamov lost his title as Perez landed a bevy of power punches that the champion managed to withstand despite being cut late in the fight. His trainer was the famed John David Jackson, who was criticized heavily for the decision to let him fight.

Magomed Abdusalamov vs Mike Perez 2013 11 02 full fight

Uploaded by Jenifer Taylor on 2015-06-30.

Abdulsalamov was cleared of brain injury by Barry Jordan, Chief Medical Officer of the New York State Athletic Commission and left the arena on his own. Afterwards, Abdusalamov went from his hotel to Roosevelt Hospital where he found that he had sustained a large blood clot on his brain. Doctors put Abdusalamov into a medically induced coma as a way to give the swelling in his brain some time to subside. He suffered a stroke but his condition is now described as critical but stable.

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Nunes outlanded Pennington 152-79 in total strikes and with the rate of concussions in both the NFL and combat sports, this is not a small issue but a major one. Anytime a fighter is forced into fighting when they have verbalized that they are done, it is criminal and with the results being serious it is a must for an investigatioon and change in teh strategy of all cornermen.



Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the
PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider’s take featuring the world’s biggest names.