As with most MMA fans, I do not like seeing fights end early. I was at UFC 96 three years ago when Aaron Riley was the victim of a bad stoppage. This being said, late stoppages are beginning to concern me.
Of course, I am a little fired up after watching Bellator 60 this past weekend but I think I am justified in my concern. Last year seemed to be my year of campaigning against the current scoring system. It appears that this year I'm going to keep my attention fixed on the late stoppage issue.
This issue has already been on my radar for some time now. I first got really worked up over this hot topic while watching UFC 111. Shane Carwin blasted Frank Mir with several punches to the side of the head while Mir was clearly sprawled face first on the mat and appeared to be already unconscious. In that particular fight Carwin looked up at the referee as if to say, "Do you want me to keep hitting this defenseless man?"
As a longtime fan of mixed martial arts, the UFC and many other organizations, I am no stranger to violence. Obviously if I didn't condone the actions of these athletes I wouldn't tune in. However, there is a way to protect these men and women from themselves and that is with good referees.
What we saw this past Friday, March 9, 2012 at Bellator 60 is just plain unacceptable. I have heard people trying to defend the referee and a lot of what has been said makes some sense but I simply do not agree at all. A referee has to take some blame in this situation because they are the ones who are right there.
The fight I am referring to was the Bellator Fighting Championships featherweight title match between Joe Warren and Pat Curran. In round three Curran hit Joe with a brutal combination of knees and punches that left former champion reeling. Instead of stopping the fight when it was clear that Warren was turning away and not defending himself, the referee let Joe Warren absorb several shots to the head that were beyond unnecessary.
It is rare that I am afraid for a fighter's well being, but this is definitely one of those times. Warren had to practically be carried back to the backstage area. Former UFC fighter Sean McCorkle voiced a similar concern after he saw how bad of shape the former featherweight champion was in.
It is always said that if a person is not intelligently defending themselves then the fight needs to be stopped. Joe Warren was not defending himself for the last 15 seconds of that fight and I cannot believe the referee didn't step in before that.
The bottom line here is that a good referee such as Herb Dean would have stopped this fight much sooner. Until we get better referees this is going to continue to happen. I just don't want to be entertained by watching someone get permanently damaged. Yes, this sport is violent, but we are a civilized after all. Aren't we?
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