Ivan's Blog

Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks

Monday, August 08, 2005
Mixed Martial Arts--- The second ever MMA event to air live on free television took place this past Saturday night, as the UFC's Ultimate Fight Night debuted on Spike TV. One of the fights ended in controversy when Nate Quarry defeated Pete Sell by TKO due to the referee stopping the fight when Sell was not intelligently defending himself.

The live crowd in Las Vegas booed the finish due to the fact that 15 seconds after the fight was stopped, Pete Sell appeared to be okay and was verbally protesting the stoppage. Sell did show the restraint not to punch the referee in the face, which only elicited a three-month joke of a suspension when Phil Baroni attacked referee Larry Landless in 2003. But the crowd was angry about the Quarry-Sell stoppage, and many people on MMA message boards have also decried the stoppage as being premature.

If you want to see for yourself whether the stoppage in the Nate Quarry-Pete Sell fight was legitimate or premature, I would recommend that you go back and look at the tape. Go to the point at which they showed the instant replay from the angle where you can see Pete Sell's eyes the whole time (not the angle that switches to a reverse shot after Sell goes down). Watch carefully, and keep your focus on Sell's face and eyes.

Also, keep in mind that there is a much lower standard for stopping a fight in MMA than there is in boxing. Fighters aren't just allowed to pummel each other indefinitely in MMA, as often seems to be the case in boxing. If a fighter is out of it and is not intelligently defending himself in an MMA fight, even if it's only for a couple seconds, the fight is supposed to be stopped. It's an important policy that exists to protect the safety of the fighters, and it's a big part of the reason that MMA has such an excellent track record from a medical standpoint.

Looking at the instant replay, Nate Quarry lands a clean punch on Pete Sell, and Sell goes down in a heap. That alone doesn't warrant stopping a fight. However, in the few seconds it takes Quarry to pounce on him on the ground, Sell's face is completely blank, his eyes are rolled back in his head, and there is NO awareness that there's a man right above him who is getting ready to punch him in the face. In those seconds, there is no awareness of anything in Pete Sell's eyes.

Anytime you see a fighter with that look in his eyes, and especially when that fighter is getting pummeled with haymakers or is about to be pummeled with haymakers, you have to make a split-second decision as a ref.

Sell was grasping on for dear life by the time the ref jumped on the fighters to stop the fight, but the same can be said of the Mike Swick vs. Gideon Ray fight earlier that evening. No one would argue that the Swick-Ray fight shouldn't have been stopped, because Ray was knocked completely loopy, and the fact that he was grasping onto Swick out of instinct didn't change that fact.

The difference between the two referee stoppages, and the thing that makes one stoppage initially appear to be BS while the other seems fair, is that Pete Sell recovered pretty quickly once the punching stopped, while Gideon Ray required a full minute or two to regain his faculties.

However, that really doesn't make a difference, and that's something that we should all remember as MMA fans when we see an MMA fight get stopped by the referee. In that split second, the ref does not have the benefit of knowing how quickly the semi-conscious fighter would recover if the punches stopped. If a referee sees a fighter with his eyes rolled back in his head and a blank look on his face, and his opponent is unloading on him, the ref has to stop the fight. Period.

If, as a matter of policy, referees were to consistently let fights continue in that situation until the fighter in question is completely unconscious, just so there's no doubt in anyone's mind that there wasn't a premature stoppage, a certain percentage of those fighters would suffer serious injuries or might even die, as in boxing.

I'm not suggesting for a minute that's what would have happened to Pete Sell if the fight had been allowed to continue, since he did recover quickly once the punches stopped, and he didn't appear to have suffered a concussion. On the contrary, that is not what would have happened to Pete Sell in this particular case. However, the point remains that a referee has no way of knowing that when he makes the split-second snap judgment on whether or not to stop a fight.

So, I'm not saying that Pete Sell would have been seriously injured if the fight had been allowed to continue in this particular case. What I am saying is that the referee has to stop the fight in that situation. No fighter has ever died in a sanctioned MMA fight, and one of the big reasons for that is because MMA refs generally stop fights when they need to be stopped.

I thought the stoppage in the Quarry-Sell fight was BS at the moment it happened, but that was because I couldn't see Pete Sell's face and eyes in the original camera angle. If you look at Pete Sell's face and eyes in the instant replay and see how out of it he truly was, that changes everything.

Labels: , ,