Sometimes, I pontificate a bit more than is probably necessary, often about the losing fighter and the struggles they faced. This time around, I don’t feel such a need to elaborate or analyze anything particularly in depth, because the UFC Jacksonville main event between Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira seems pretty cut and dry.
Smith’s corner should’ve thrown in the towel last night (Weds., May 13, 2020) inside Florida’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. It would’ve been reasonable to do so after the third round, but it was absolutely criminal to send Smith back out for the fifth.
Let’s briefly recap the fight: Smith looked good early, both fast and effective. Teixeira didn’t absorb anything too major, however, biding his time until Smith’s activity dropped off. When it did, Teixeira started landing bombs. Smith went down hard in the third, and referee Jason Herzog could have called it on the initial faceplant.
He didn’t, and that was a reasonable call. Smith was hurt badly, but he kept fighting hands and working to limit the damage. That’s intelligent defense, so Herzog let it roll. Smith didn’t recover though — he spent the rest of the round getting smacked with hammerfists and punches to the side of his skull.
Still, it was reasonable to send him out for the fourth. Smith was hurt, but he’s come back plenty of times before. He’s a veteran. If his corner thought he was good to go after a single knockdown, that’s not a crime.
But he wasn’t. Smith went out and got placed on his back, yet again, to get beat up further almost immediately. There was little snap in his punches, despite his best effort. “Lionheart” was walking dead, and Teixeira brutalized him for another five minutes.
By this point, there was no more grey area. Calling the bout was the only option. There were some motions where the referee could have called it off, but Smith made that difficult by consistently fighting hands. Instead, that responsibility fell to the corner.
Surrounded by his trusted friends and training partners, Smith confided. He admitted that his gums were losing grip on his teeth. At one point, he handed his tooth to the referee!
In addition to all the concussive damage, Smith was admitting to his team that things were LITERALLY falling apart. It would’ve been safer to call the bout even before that admission, but that should have guaranteed it.
Instead, Smith was sent back out for more abuse, smacked upside the head a few more times, and the referee finally called the bout. The additional minute of damage was not dramatic, but it was quite unnecessary, especially when Smith is already going to need dental surgery.
“The ref could’ve stopped that in the fourth,” UFC President Dana White said (via MMA Junkie). “Us sitting on the outside, it was a little tough to watch.”
Ringside announcer, Daniel Cormier, was also upset:
I would have stopped the fight, corner could have saved their guy from getting finished. Some mistakes in that corner tonight. And I love those guys! Too much instruction, no crowd to filter it. Anthony Smith is a savage, but props to @gloverteixeira on big victory.— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) May 14, 2020
Smith’s corner deserves the blame it’s getting, but it’s also important to remember that the MMA environment is the problem, as well. No one throws in the towel — it’s so rare! While nothing seems likely to change until someone dies or suffers extreme injury, it would be amazing to see UFC issue a response or even a group of coaches come together to make a statement about the necessity of living to fight another day.
I won’t hold my breath.
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