While the level of refereeing in the UFC has gotten much better over the years, you can still end up with some pretty inexperienced people messing up some pretty important fights when the promotion visits smaller regions and far away lands. So is it shocking that a referee did a less than perfect job stopping the Jim Crute vs. Sam Alvey fight at UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia? Not really. But it is surprising that ref was Marc Goddard, widely considered to be one of the best in the biz.
Goddard got a lot of heat from Sam Alvey immediately after the fight ended, and UFC president Dana White said Goddard did “a really bad job” at the post-event press conference. And rather than try to justify a stoppage that slipped a bit outside that narrow sweet spot between premature and late, Goddard was willing to admit it wasn’t his best work.
”Going back and looking at it again, if I could run it back again, yeah I would have taken a half step back,” Goddard told MMA Fighting in a detailed interview. “I would have let another two shots or three shots play out. And I’m gonna put it down to a mistake. I’m big and ugly enough to do that.”
At the same time, he laid out a pretty reasonable explanation for why he stopped the fight when he did.
“It wasn’t one, two or three shots I’m jumping in and stopping,” he said. “It was 16. Sixteen shots. And at that point, I’m taking into assessment, I think he’s hurt and not recovered from the original knockdown. I think he’s hurt, I see his head on the mat, I see the shots coming in and I make my call. At the same time, as I’m doing that, people are saying, ‘Didn’t you see Sam’s thumb up?’ No, I didn’t. Wholly and honestly, I didn’t see his thumb up, because his arm is outstretched and my focus, my vision is on where these shots are trying to land.”
That will be small consolation to Sam Alvey, who is now riding a two fight losing streak. Both those fights happened to be reffed by Goddard, and Alvey took exception with the previous stoppage against “Lil Nog” Antonio Rogerio Nogueira as well. But going back and re-watching that one, it’s hard to side against Goddard.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira bounces back with the TKO win! pic.twitter.com/5YKOh51i2Z— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) September 23, 2018
There has been a continued back and forth in the MMA community on whether refs should let fighters duke it out until one is knocked out cold. That was the basic argument TJ Dillashaw was making over his stoppage loss to Henry Cejudo, and pretty much the mental headspace you have to be in to side with Sam Alvey. These fights are big deals, and you should give fighters every chance to keep fighting. But that would undoubtedly lead to a whole new set of criticisms for the ref.
“Let’s say I let it play out and then the last two shots that came through put him completely facedown, unconscious,” Goddard said. “What do you think they’ll be saying about me?”
“I approach my job and all the fights the same,” he said. “And I’m sorry to Sam, I really am. I feel bad. But all I want people to try and do is understand where my mental aspect came from. Had I stopped the fight from the ground and pound alone, people would be rightly jumping all over me. But I’m not. It was the fact of what happened before that.”
What do you think, Maniacs? Should we be letting fighters go out on their shield, or do they clearly need protecting from themselves?