The co-main event of UFC 246 couldn’t have gone much worse from a spectator standpoint.
Despite the promise of a competitive rematch between two top-5 ranked bantamweights, the second fight between Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington turned out much like their first: Short on excitement, and with Holm picking up am underwhelming victory on the scorecards.
The lack of action was noted by UFC president Dana White, who complimented both women and also opined Pennington isn’t making the most of her talents.
“[Holm] looked good tonight,” White said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “Her and Raquel fought to a split decision last time, and Raquel’s tough. Raquel punches hard, I mean look at the fight between her and Amanda Nunes. That was a war between two tough girls.
“The problem with Raquel, and I said this to her a million times, she will not let her hands go. She’s got hands. She doesn’t let them go.”
White saved his harshest criticism for referee Jason Herzog. For the majority of the bout, Holm used superior clinch work to tie Pennington up and repeatedly trap her against the cage. Pennington did a fine job of preventing the former UFC champion from taking her to the mat, or creating space to land significant strikes. But that led to a stalemate that drew loud boos from the crowd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The decision to allow Holm and Pennington to engage in what was primarily a battle of underhooks didn’t sit well with White.
“Not to mention the fact that the ref let them clinch for four minutes for three f*cking rounds and they fought for a minute,” White said. “That was a problem too. Driving me crazy, man.
“If you are not doing damage or advancing your position, you split the fighters up and make them actually fight. And I like this guy, I don’t want to bum this guy out, but he’s running around the Octagon, I’m like what f*cking fight is he watching? He’s moving around like he’s trying to stay out of the way, like there’s a f*cking war going on or something, and these guys are leaning up against the fence for four minutes. Are you sh*tting me right now? I literally almost got up and walked out of that fight, I was so frustrated.
In the end, White stopped short of throwing Herzog completely under the bus, something he hasn’t shied away from in the past (most notably, White had an ongoing feud with referee Steve Mazzagatti for years). As far as he’s concerned, the forgettable fight spoke for itself.
“But anyway, I’ve s*it on enough referees in my day,” White said. “[Herzog] seems like a nice guy, I’m too old to be f*cking doing this s*it anymore, tearing these guys apart. He’s a nice guy and I don’t mean to whatever, but you saw the fight. You know what I’m talking about.”