While Henry Cejudo did what he needed to do last weekend at UFC Brooklyn to defend his UFC flyweight title, his 32-second TKO finish over bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw has unfortunately been marred in controversy.
Many believe that the main event superfight was simply stopped too early. Dillashaw, who remains the UFC’s 135-pound king, was still trying to grab a hold of Cejudo’s leg when referee Kevin MacDonald stepped in for the quick stoppage. It wasn’t the greatest of outcomes for a fight of that magnitude and one that Dillashaw believes was stolen from.
Even UFC president Dana White called it a “horrible stoppage.”
Unfortunately for MacDonald, former referee and current Bellator MMA color commentator John McCarthy is siding with the majority of the combat community. In a recent interview with MMA Fighting (shown above), McCarthy discussed the Cejudo vs. Dillashaw superfight and what he would have done in MacDonald’s situation.
“When you say ‘good stoppage, bad stoppage,’ I’m not into saying what’s good or bad,” McCarthy said of the Cejudo vs. Dillashaw stoppage. “Kevin made a decision. It’s his decision, he’s the one that’s got to live with his decision, along with TJ and the UFC themselves.
“If you’re going to ask me, there’s things that I want a referee to think about,” he continued. “If you’re going to ask me would I have stopped it at that point, no. I wouldn’t have stopped it at that point. This is the reason why: this is not a fight between two guys who are just brought together like ‘oh we’re going to match this fight up,’ whatever fight it is. It’s not, you know, Fighter A against Fighter B. This is a fight where both guys have earned the right to be in the position. They’ve both created a background that’s put them in the position of being champions, and now these are champions going after each other — one to save his entire weight class basically, the other to prove ‘those guys are not as good as me.’
“You look what happens. That fight is a young fight. It’s 25 seconds [in]. When Henry hits TJ with a shot, it hurts him, now doubt about it. It puts him down. When you’re a referee you’ve got to understand certain things. What you’ve got to understand is, I’ve got two guys who are champions. Not all fights are the same. You’re going hear a lot of referees go ‘you referee every fight the same,’ but I’m going to tell you, that’s a referee that has no clue what they’re doing.
“TJ, you see, reaching, he’s got the leg [after he was dropped]. He’s trying to collect himself and you’ve got to give him that opportunity, because again, he’s got a full tank of gas. He hasn’t received damage over a couple of rounds. It wasn’t like he was exhausted. Those are elements you factor in when you decide if you’re going to stop a fight or not.”
While MacDonald jumped in to prolong any unnecessary damage to Dillashaw, an argument can be made that a fight pitting champion vs. champion should be allowed to last a little longer than usual contests. There’s certainly no compromise when it comes to fighter safety, but Dillashaw wasn’t out by any stretch of the imagination and has recovered from situations like that in the past.
Dillashaw has already lobbied for a rematch but we don’t know if UFC is up for the task. If they’d like to kill the flyweight division as a whole and push Cejudo into a rematch with Dillashaw at 135 pounds that’s certainly a good alternative.
Until then, fight fans are left to speculate what could have been if MacDonald gave Dillashaw a few more seconds to flip the script.