The course of Junior Dos Santos’ life and career was drastically altered by the 23-minute beating he took from Cain Velasquez at UFC 166, according to Chael Sonnen.
Shortly before the weigh-ins for UFC Fight Night 30, the self-proclaimed “Oregon Gangster” enjoyed a heart to heart with fans during a live Q&A session. One of the questions hurled his way pertained to the controversial heavyweight title bout between Velasquez and Dos Santos.
The general consensus in the MMA community is that the fight should have been stopped much earlier than the official time of 3:09 in the fifth round. Velasquez pummeled Dos Santos relentlessly for nearly five full rounds. Referee Herb Dean motioned like he was going to stop the fight several times, but Dos Santos’ ability to remain upright and return punches in the midst of overwhelming punishment kept the bout going.
Dos Santos’ face was hardly recognizable by the fifth round. His left eye was completely swollen shut, and he was bleeding profusely from a deep cut over his right eye.
Sonnen believes Dean should have stopped the fight earlier, but he puts the brunt of the blame on the shoulders of Dos Santos’ cornerman:
Junior Dos Santos’ cornerman needs to be cut, period, Sonnen said at the Q&A. That was beyond inappropriate, that they sent him back out there. The doctor comes in twice, what that doctor was looking for I have no idea. The referee didn’t stop the fight, though he should have. Ultimately it defaults to your cornerman, who you trust, who is like a father figure, and that guy let Junior Dos Santos down, period. The commission licenses these cornermen. I don’t have the foggiest idea why; I guess just to take their $25. That should be the first cornerman that’s suspended, that was beyond wrong what he did.
UFC President Dana White has also been very critical about Dos Santos’ corner in the fight.
Speaking with MMAFighting.com, White said he thought the fight “should have been stopped in the third.” Like Sonnen, he was completely baffled that Dos Santos’ cornermen could stand by so idly and watch a guy they supposedly care about take such a vicious beating.
Dos Santos is a world class fighter with a heart the size of the entire South American continent. A cornerman is the great protector in a sense, and an often overlooked responsibility the job entails is having the fortitude to save fighters from themselves.
You have to be the one to make the call when your fighter has had enough. The decision to throw in the towel shouldn't be based around whether or not a fighter is still standing. As Sonnen so eloquently puts it, a good cornerman throws in the towel when he feels his fighter can no longer win:
You do not stop the fight when your fighter can no longer continue. You stop the fight when your fighter can no longer win. The second your guy can’t win, you get him out of there. That fight should have been stopped way earlier. It knocked years off Junior’s life and career, that cornerman should be fired.
In a message relayed to Combate.com, via Fighters Only, Dos Santos reportedly thought the fight was stopped in the second round and had no recollection of the last three rounds after the bout. This is truly scary stuff for a fighter who hasn't even reached the age of 30 yet.
If Dos Santos hopes to have a long MMA career, perhaps he should reconsider the people he chooses to stand behind him.