There's only one problem: Belfort's finishing blows were illegal shots to the back of the head and should have resulted in a disqualification loss.
The finish came quickly in the first round after Belfort rocked Akiyama on the feet before following up with punches as Akiyama tried to defend himself.
After Akiyama was rocked, the result was little more than academic, but it was two illegal punches to the back of Akiyama's head that finally resulted in the stoppage; and that's where I have a problem.
Just because Belfort would have won anyway doesn't mean Belfort's illegal blows should go unpunished.
This isn't the first time Belfort has finished a fight with illegal blows to the back of the head. Punches to the back of the head are illegal because they are extremely dangerous and can result in permanent injury or even death.
In some cases, illegal blows to the back of the head are accidental, or caused by a defending fighter turning his head away. But this was not the case last night, and this is not the first time Belfort has landed such blows.
At UFC 103, Belfort finished off Rich Franklin with punches to the back of the head, and much like last night, Belfort wasn't punished and instead awarded with a knockout of the night bonus.
I'm sure Belfort isn't purposely punching his opponents to the back of the head, but his consistency in doing so shows a distinct recklessness that should not go unpunished.
Jonathan Snowden said it best tonight when he wrote:
"Belfort, again last night, showed no concern for his grounded opponent."... " I agree that Belfort was well on his way to victory - legitimately. That said, a fighter shouldn't have to worry about defending against illegal techniques. The back of the head is off limits and officials, like it or not, are going to have to start enforcing the rules."
The fact that Belfort is so far going unpunished means that the next time he is in a similar position he won't think twice about committing the same fouls again, because apparently they aren't fouls so long as your opponent is rocked.
The athletic commission should take the appropriate measure to penalize Belfort and show fighters that just because they're on the cusp of victory doesn't mean fighter safety goes out the window.
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