Last Saturday night, Fabio Maldonado suffered a vicious spinning back-kick to the groin from Roger Hollett and was subsequently laid out on the canvas writhing in pain, requiring a 2:25 stoppage of the action.
I believe what transpired during that stoppage was a downright embarrassment to the sport and completely un-professional.
As Maldonado rolled around on the ground attempting to stretch himself out and fighting off (what must have been) waves of nausea, Leon Roberts (the referee) came over to him and advised him that he had up to five minutes to recover. Roberts then went over to Hollett and stated “Roger stand over here, for me”…he then went back to Maldonado and said “You stay here” (as if Fabio was going anywhere), at which point Roberts sought out an interpreter and asked him to come around to the side of the cage where FM was laying…Roberts then said to the translator….“If he doesn't get up, I want you to ask him if he wants to see a doctor…ask him for me, if he needs to see a doctor”. Dutifully, the interpreter, who was standing roughly 5 feet away from Maldonado and talking through the fence and over the crowd, asked the fighter if he needed a doctor. Maldonado affirmed in the negative, by moving his head back-and-forth indicating “no”. The interpreter then stated to Robertson… “He said no. He doesn't need to see a doctor.”
From moment of impact to getting the question answered took 90 seconds. In that amount of time, the doctor could have actually gone into The Octagon and established for himself, whether or not the fighter needed medical attention.
First and foremost and on the subject of a fighter’s health within The Octagon and during a fight, a fighter’s opinion of his own health is an irrelevant consideration. If the question of medical attention is being raised as an issue, then a doctor should be brought in and regardless of the fighter’s opinion on the matter and if for no other reason other than the fact, that neither the fighter nor the referee are qualified to make a determination as to whether-or-not the circumstances or situation, warrants medical attention. That’s the (ring) doctor’s call, period.
It’s an even more stupefying question, when you consider that the clock has already been stopped and that it can remain so for up to five minutes. In short, they have the time so why not just have the doctor come in and check the fighter? One would think it to be the reasonable and logical course of action.
As we have seen this event played out in numerous fights in the past and as it will inevitably happen again in the future, it seems reasonable to ask the question, does The UFC need to develop a protocol for such occurrences?
Personally, I feel that they should and if I was going to offer up a protocol I’d simply suggest this, when a fighter takes a strike to the groin and goes down, the moment the referee calls time and sends the offending fighter to a neutral corner, the door to The Octagon should be opened and the doctor and the fighter’s corner be allowed to enter and attend to the fighter. The doctor could quickly check the fighter and establish if he’s fit to continue and if so, the corner guys could stretch the fighter out and help him recover his wind. They could also give him water and ice him, if needed. I’m sure all of it would be greatly appreciated in the moment, by the downed fighter.
Another thought, might be to enforce the full 5 minutes of the stoppage.
I say this, because on occasion I’ve seen fighters re-start a fight when they were (probably) not fully recovered and did so, simply because they were feeling the pressure of the crowd. Crowd pressure, like a fighter’s opinion about his own health, should be an irrelevant consideration during a fight and in particular, when regarding an “in-fight clock stoppage” as a result of a referee’s intervention. Enforcing the full 5 and having the doctor and the fighter’s corner in there helping the fighter recover, would go a long way to relieving fan pressure (on the fighter) to re-start the fight. At least he wouldn't be out there by himself, taking the heat.
A simple protocol for what to do in the advent of a groin strike won’t prevent them, but it would certainly be a marked improvement on what we have now, which seems to be a whole lot of uncertainty. As every man can attest, getting kicked or punched in the groin is no trip-to-the-beach and recovering from it is neither quick nor painless. Taking that into consideration, I think The UFC, the fighters and even the fans, would be well served by having a methodology in place by which a downed fighter is simply attended to, minus any debates. I would also think that the referees would appreciate a straightforward guideline, as well. It would certainly make their job in The Octagon a great deal easier.