Early stoppages in MMA are quite often the subject of heated debates, especially if a title is on the line and the ref steps in early. The subject can also be quite sensitive as there is quite a thin line between a good and bad intervention. Fighter safety should be held paramount for a referee, but it is too often the case that combatants take too much damage.
The ‘Just bleed’ mentality of some fans, and promoters, can have a big influence in the way fighters feel when in the cage. A common opinion is that it’s better to be knocked out or have a limb snapped rather than call it quits for your own safety. Someone that knows a lot about battling through punishment is former UFC champ Frankie Edgar, check out what he said to MMAJunkie:
“If it’s me, let me be limp before you stop it, It’s tough to be a ref, especially in that situation when they’ve got to protect the fighters. But I want every chance I can get. Let me go out on my shield.”
“It’s definitely the referee’s discretion, but I want every chance to come back,” Edgar said. “In the Maynard fights, someone else may have stopped it. Obviously the ref didn’t, and he made the right choice because I bounced back. That was the right choice.”
The right choice in many fights I’ve seen recently has not been made, and the long (or short) term impact can be hard t watch. So is it really better for the ref to err on the side of caution? After all, this is the fight game. As much as it’s frustrating to see a fight stopped prematurely, I’d much rather an early stoppage than to see a guy get beaten silly.
“I’m a fighter; I can’t help it,” Edgar said. “I’m a competitor. I want to win, and if I feel a ref stopped it too early, I would be upset. I just want the chance to come back. I’m sure it would never be like that where I’m getting my head beat in and the ref wouldn’t stop it, but I just want a chance to come back.”
Renowned MMA ref Herb Dean has come under some criticism for his stoppages at UFC 169/170, but some might say unfairly. I’m sure the criticism would have been much harsher had either Sara McMann or Urijah Faber taken any unnecessary punishment.
I admire Edgar’s bravery and honor, but at the same time I think it sets a bad example for budding young athletes. We are yet to see all the facts about the long term impact that MMA can have on fighters, but the thought that giving up shows weakness needs to be taken out of this sport.
It’s a tough job for the referees in MMA, especially with tough SOB’s like ‘The Answer’.