UFC: Inconsistent Stoppages

Mitch WilesContributor IFebruary 10, 2009

From no rules to the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, MMA is ever evolving and some work still needs to be done.

The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts places safety for the combatants as a high priority. No one wants to see a fighter injured, especially due to a late stoppage. Having a fight stopped before a bone is broken, or when a fighter can no longer defend himself makes sense, but what does "Intelligently Defending" mean?


13:46-24A.12 Stopping a contest

The referee and ringside physician are the sole arbiters of a bout and are the only individuals authorized to enter the fighting area at any time during competition and authorized to stop a contest.

The term "Intelligently Defending" is not found in the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. This term is often used by UFC commentators, but a definition in black and white doesn't appear to exist. UFC.com fails to define or discuss the term in their RULES section.

"Intelligently Defending" appears to be a subjective term referring to the Referee's discretion. Because of this subjectivity the UFC is flooded with questionable stoppages.

Turtling can be seen as not intelligently defending. In the recent Cain Velasquez vs. Denis Stojnić contest at UFC Fight Night: Lauzon vs. Stephens, Velasquez had Stojnić back and Stojnić was not able to better his position. Stojnić "Turtled" or covered up to defend himself. Once Stojnić covered up the fight was stopped, even though Velasquez was unable to inflict more damage.

At UFC 87, Brock Lesnar faced Heath Herring. For the majority of the match, Lesnar had Herrings back, and Herring was more or less immobilized. Herring covered up while Lesnar tried to finish the fight with hammer-fists and knees. This fight went to a decision because Lesnar had difficulty inflicting more damage.

Herring's actions were intelligent. Fights are not won by Turtling, but whatever happened to the idea of letting your opponent punch themselves out?

If neither fighter is causing damage, then the fight should continue. When a fighter gives up his back, he should not be expected to fight back for the fight to continue, but rather defend himself to the best of his ability by covering up.

All-to-often, a Fighter will capture his opponents back, land a flurry of weak glancing blows and the fight would be stopped. The UFC is filled with elite fighters, if they want to quit, they will tap-out.

Mounted position is a far more dangerous position then controlling the back. When a Fighter captures his opponents back, there is a danger to submission, but far less can be achieved with striking.

Rules are in place to protect the back of the head.

For consistency, Turtling should either be a foul or accepted as intelligently defending, not both.