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Top UFC coach: Corners are responsible for winning fights, not protecting fighters

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If he dies, he dies.

UFC Fight Night: Hubbard v Rohskopf Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

If you think a fighter’s corner is charged with keeping their athlete safe, then maybe you don’t have as much experience as longtime combat sports coach Dewey Cooper, or perhaps you’re just “confused” by all the conflicting reports in the media.

Cooper, responsible for top UFC fighters like Francis Ngannou and Kevin Lee, among others, was part of the Max Rohskopf finish at last month’s UFC on ESPN 11 event in Las Vegas. Rohskopf wanted to throw in the towel but his corner wouldn’t let him, forcing cageside officials to intervene.

Not surprisingly, Cooper has no regrets.

“I’m glad I have a platform just to say this: Everyone is saying the No. 1 responsibility for the coach is the fighter’s protection, and I’ll be the first to say I totally disagree with that,” Cooper told MMA Junkie. “I’ve been fighting for 36 years. I’ve got as much experience as anyone in the world. I have as many fights combined – more than 75 percent of the guys in the world – under my experience. I think the only responsibility for a coach is to try his best to propel his fighter to victory. That’s the No. 1 thing we’re there for, and that’s in training camp and in the fight. The responsibility of the ringside doctor and the referee is the fighter’s safety. I think everyone has this confused.”

Coach Robert Drysdale also stands by the decision.

Ultimately, the only opinion that matters in the debate about stopping fights is the opinion of Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), and it didn’t sound like Executive Director Bob Bennett was “confused” about the role Cooper and Drysdale were expected to play.

Corners have come under increased scrutiny in recent years as the sport pays greater attention to fighter safety. Raquel Pennington and Anthony Smith are a couple of recent examples, but don’t bring any of that “towel” talk around Neil Magny.