There are no hard and fast rules of running a corner in a boxing or mixed martial arts bout. The one maxim that must be followed is that the person running the corner should always strive to protect their fighter.
It’s questions about that essential task that has placed a high school wrestling coach from Colorado firmly under the national microscope. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the new Fountain-Fort Carson wrestling coach for the forthcoming 2018-19 school year is Jason Kutz, who also served as the corner for Raquel Pennington during her recent UFC bantamweight main event against Brazilian champion Amanda Nunes.
You can see the controversial actions that unfolded below, with Pennington telling Kutz, “I’m done, I want to be done,” before her coach convinced her to continue. The result was a bloody TKO by Nunes that instantly raised questions about Kutz’s role in the octagon, as you can see starting at the 2:00 mark of the video highlights.
As detailed by the Gazette, here is how Kutz replied when Pennington told him, “I want to be done.”
“I know it hurts. Let’s power through this. Let’s power through this, let’s believe,” Kutz told Pennington after the fourth round. “Change your mindset. Change your mindset. Let’s throw everything we got. We’ll recover later … Throw everything we got.”
Kutz spoke to the Gazette about the different mindset he has to use when coaching UFC professionals and high school athletes, making sure to emphasize the importance of safety in coaching his new high school charges.
“I do understand that some people can see things differently than me,” Kutz told the Gazette. “During that instance, I felt that I did what I needed to do as a coach. She is a professional athlete, and she agreed with me after that going back in was the right thing to do.”
“When working with high school athletes, certainly health and welfare of student athletes are our primary concern. And I would never do anything to jeopardize my position with Fountain-Fort Carson.”
There’s no sense that Kutz’s actions in Pennington’s corner have done that, at least not yet. Indeed, Pennington has stepped forward to defend Kutz and her coaching staff since the bout — “I’m actually proud of my coaches,” Pennington told The MMA Hour. “At the end of the day, my coaches know me best.” — and Fountain-Fort Carson officials have followed suit.
Still, the spotlight that has followed the coach since the bout could only be described as a suboptimal start to what all surely would have hoped would have been a serene and seamless transition into the leadership role at the Colorado school.