Everyone seemed to really enjoy Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night, although there was a decent amount of grumbling going on regarding some of those stoppages. While no one is saying the refs didn’t have justification, a lot of people still felt the fighters should have been given more of a chance to recover and determine their own fate. Michael Huckaby from 5ounces makes a good argument for giving vets the time to sort their shit out before stopping the fight:
Look, no one is asking for a Yoshida/Thompson murder match. Speaking of which that referee still needs to be charged. Just give these guys that have given so much to the sport the respect of making sure they’re out before you say they are prematurely. Look at Herring/Nogueira. That fight could have easily been called after the Herring kick but wasn’t. Had the ref hopped in to save Nog he wouldn’t have gotten the title shot. He wouldn’t be UFC Heavyweight Champion. All because a referee wanted to save him from a situation where he didn’t need to be saved. Think how the entire landscape of MMA would have changed based on that one decision. No discussing if Nog is the best heavyweight. There would be more PRIDE bashing. We’d go from UFC Champion Nog to “guy that couldn’t even beat Heath Herring.”
On the other hand, you have to understand that there’s a huge difference between a conscious fighter taking strikes and a zonked out defenseless fighter taking strikes. When you’re out of it, there’s no protecting yourself … no jerking back, no deflecting the blows. One or two punches to the face when you’re stunned on the canvas can easily result in serious fucking damage.
It’s funny, but I had more of an issue with the Florian/Lauzon stoppage than I did with the Parisyan/Alves stoppage. Karo was out and he was getting punched repeatedly. Sure, he got to his feet and seemed fine after the ref pushed Alves off. But I seriously doubt he would have been able to do that if the ref hadn’t intervened when he did … Alves was teeing off on Karo and would have continued to do so.
On the other hand, Joe Lauzon was conscious and defending himself against Florian. In my opinion, it wasn’t up to the ref to decide when Joe had had enough. So long as Joe wasn’t knocked silly and was intelligently defending himself, it was his right to try and ride out the final minute and a half of that round.
Regardless, it comes down to a single truth: if you don’t want the fight to be stopped, don’t get KO’d in the first place, or don’t get stuck in a bad position. You really can’t rely on a ref to do anything other than err on the side of caution. Part of their job is to make sure the fighters are safe, and if some early stoppages are what it takes in order to ensure guys like Karo and Houston and Joe don’t get hurt badly, then I’ll take it.