Fans were extremely upset with the way UFC 244 ended over the weekend. Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz’s Baddest Mother F*cker Championship main event ended after the ringside physician deemed Diaz’s cuts were too bad to continue the fight.
Dr. Nitin K. Sethi, a New York-based neurologist, was the man who made the call to stop the fight. Speaking to MMA Fighting, Sethi revealed he has been getting threats since what happened Saturday night. Fans have called his office, posted fake reviews of him online, and personally threatened him.
”I’m a very good neurologist and a very good doctor, and calling me f*cking scum online and calling my office staff and yelling at them, threatening me, I fear for my health and safety,” Sethi said.
“Somebody’s going to get hurt, and it’s probably going to be me this time. People don’t realize what they do when they talk about these things. But that’s the hard reality of this sport.”
Sethi did not give a medical explanation as to why he stopped the fight, saying it would be personally and professionally unethical for him to publicly discuss a patient’s condition. He did note, however, his decision to call the fight off was not just due to the cut, but his overall assessment of Diaz.
”I made an objective call based on my assessment of the fighter,” Sethi said. “Not just the cut, but the overall assessment of the fighter (and) how the fight was going. Once I felt I could not guarantee the health and safety going forward, I had to make a tough call.
”The moment I lose my objectivity and I’m concerned how my actions are viewed by the UFC, by the fans, by the media, then I cease to be a ringside physician, and I cease to be doing my job. I have to be objective, and objectively, you make a call.”
Sethi added that referee Dan Miragliotta expressed concern about Diaz’s condition to the commission after the second round. However, it was decided to give him another round.
”Going forward off that third round, I could not guarantee his health and safety,” Sethi said. “When in doubt, you have to do what you have to do to protect the athlete’s safety. His health and safety comes first. Every action of mine has to be viewed with that foremost in everybody’s mind, but that doesn’t happen.”
Sethi believes the UFC actually made the decision worst by pushing attention on his decision to stop the fight. UFC commentator Joe Rogan noted that it was “very, very usual for a doctor to stop a fight for a cut like that” during his post-fight interview with Diaz.
”You have a very, very charged crowd, and you just make it more charged,” he said. “I was walking back [from the cage] and people from the top were yelling at me, ‘f*ck this, f*ck that.’”
Diaz claimed after the fight that Sethi “played” him by saying everything was okay after checking him. Sethi again declined to comment on those claims, citing professional standards of behavior for medical professionals.
”I can only defend my medical decision making process,” Sethi said. “I have the highest respect for Mr. Diaz, and he’s a fighter who never quits, and he certainly would have not quit and would have liked to continue, and he did say that to me in the cage. I can appreciate that.
”Everybody has a different threshold of stopping a fight. A fan (or) a referee or the media might have a different threshold. A doctor has a different threshold of stopping a fight, and in the end, if a doctor’s there, you need to respect the threshold.”
Sethi believes the fallout from his decision will now lead to other doctors being afraid to make calls.
”After what happened to me, let me tell you one thing: The only thing sad about this will be you’ll have doctors who will now be very afraid to make calls,” Sethi said. “And when people are scared to make calls because they’re so afraid of the repercussions, I think we’re entering dangerous territory.”
What do you make of the doctor receiving death threats for stopping the UFC 244 main event?