Late Stoppages: Can Anything Be Done?

Late Stoppages: Can Anything Be Done?


We’ve all seen it before, a fighter, maybe even your own favorite fighter, taking a beating well past the point of proving who the victor of the fight was and all while the referee (just) stands there allowing the fight to continue.

“Late stoppages” have blighted the sport of MMA with some unbelievably bad calls over the years and some, that (even the) most novice of fans would have had enough brains to step-in and stop. Fights that come to mind quickly (for me) would be Carwin / Mir, Lesnar / Mir 2, Weidman / Munoz and most recently Burkman / Fitch and War Machine / Avena.

These were all fights that should have been stopped considerably earlier than they were.

In each instance the losing fighter took shots to the head that were totally unnecessary or as was the case with Jon Fitch, had been chocked unconscious, released from the hold and had the victorious Josh Burkman standing over his limp body with his hands raised, long before the referee even knew the match was finished. The Fitch case was so egregious that it caused UFC President Dana White to comment on it and it wasn’t even his promotion that had put on the fight. White’s comments were such that he mused as to how long it will be before a fighter gets seriously injured as a result of bad officiating and the fact that the commissions, particularly NSAC, are not being responsive or proactive in dealing with the problem.  

So what is the problem?

As White sees it, the problem is the commissions and their licensing of officials who “shouldn’t even be watching MMA, let alone officiating.” As the UFC is under the sanction of the commissions and has no power of its own on such matters, the promotion is helpless in terms of addressing the problem itself and its only avenue of redress would be that of asking its fighters to refuse certain referees.

In terms of asking fighters to ban officials by request, White said “he would never do that”, yet if it’s the only solution one has to ask the question, why not? It would seem like the logical thing to do.

Personally, I’d like to see an official banned (by fighter request) after he or she had 3 late stoppages, blown calls or any combination of the two and I’d like to see the UFC develop and post its own fighting metrics, regarding referees and the UFC’s opinion of their performances. That metric would in turn act as a guideline for the fighters, in terms of whom they should and should not allow for the officiating their bouts.

Either way, something should be done, because and as White said, “Somebody is going to get seriously hurt.”


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  • HolyGrimace666

    can anything be done? sure, just dont have Kim Winslow ref anymore fights and were all good.

    • Brian Cox

      I fear the issue extends beyond Kim Winslow.

      • IChokePeople

        but she does ****

  • highkick12

    Every sport has ref errors, its just the human factor.
    We cant use a robot ref but we could use computer judges, at least fix one problem.

  • enjoylife321

    Ref decisions are always going to be subjective to how much damage they percieve a fighter can take, come back from etc. We will always have issues there.

    The corner always has the towel they can throw in if they feel a fighter is out on his feet. Problem with that is that often it is thrown in as the ref is stopping the damage. Most corners don't want to interrupt their fighter and be the ones to stop the action.

    If anyone recalls the Cory Hill fight where Joe Rogan was screaming "stop the fight" when the referee did not see his leg snap in two.

    They could implement a second cage side referee with an earpiece to the main ref to stop if they really felt it should be stopped. Often the time delay in assessing and making that call may be too long anyway.

    5 seconds is a long time to get blasted unecessarily, but its a short time to assess everything and make the call to stop.

    • Brian Cox

      Yeah Enjoy, a second official with buzzer or something and I understand about the comeback, but most don't when the fight is that far gone. I'd always rather air on the side of caution.

      • enjoylife321

        @Brian….you mentioned the war machine stoppage which i agree with you, but look how different that fight ended to the munoz fight….

        Munoz was out pretty much after the elbow, where the guy in the war machine fight had his arm trapped and was getting belted.

        On both occasions neither fighter was intelligently defending themselves. How many shots can a fighter take before that rules applies ? 1 shot 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9????? Its a grey area.

        Whats interesting is that the UFC have no say in the officiating, selecting referees etc….So why then would a referee whose has no business interest allow fights to continue when there is no real payoff?
        They can be criticised for stopping early but they can also place a fighter at risk….

        I would have thought being a commission, safety would prevail and we would see stoppages much sooner.

  • falcon4917

    I agree that there have been some bad stops on the going too far end but I feel a bigger problem is early stoppage fights that happen nearly every event. Your job includes being beat down if you are not winning and you and your corner can stop the fight at any time. The real problem is when a Ref stops the fight far sooner than you needed and in many cases the fighter getting nearly stopped wins the fight in a later round. Maybe educated fighters need to be refs and forget about the commission entries.

  • watermelon fresh

    Kizer is terrible at his position. In general the athletic commission comes across as shady and a bunch of people pulling big salaries because they are all friends and backroom deals. The fact that Kizer defends Mazagattii with the latest rounds of complaints and comes across so closed minded shows that these guys are all under qualified and should not be overseeing a sport. You should have to train a certain number of hours in MMA,BJJ or Kickboxing and have to go to reffing school in order to be considered to be a judge or ref….

    Also, it's funny that EVERYONE knows Keith Kizer….He gets his face on camera as often as he can. Again, not good in my opinion.

  • cranestyle

    It would be easy to fix. Set up an independent review committee of people with medical and MMA experience, have them review all major Ref decisions, including stoppages.

    Hand out fines and suspensions for making mistakes, or revoke licenses for repeated violations or a really dangerous mistake. Fighters can lose their career if they screw up badly enough, why not Refs?

    The problem is, getting any of the existing committees to agree to some kind of oversight. "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" – Juvenal, 1 AD. Roughly translated "who watches the watchmen?"

  • Bruce Lee

    The prevention of a late stoppage by a reffing error is the responsibility of the cornerman. He throws in the towel if the fight becomes too one sided. The flaw might be the towel itself. It may not make it to a point where it is visible to the ref. Give each corner an electronic buzzer like your car remote that will sound a "corner stoppage" horn.

    Think about it. This will also prevent early stoppages as the ref is less anxious about stopping too early with the fighter's coach as back up. The ref can still stop the fight but if he lets it go for another three seconds and the corner doesn't like it the corner can "step in".

    Much like my fix for the scoring system – problem solved 😉

    • enjoylife321

      I've definetly seen towels thrown behind the back of a referee.

    • falcon4917

      Great idea.

  • 51JD51

    No. Simple as that. Well at least not until we have sensors detecting the fighters vital signs that send an electric shock paralysing the winning fighter once he has rendered his opponent unconscious.