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UFC 244: Doctor behind Diaz vs Masvidal stoppage fears for his safety after receiving threats

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UFC 244: Masvidal v Diaz Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The much-anticipated “BMF” title fight between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal lived up to the hype last Saturday night (Nov. 2, 2019) for the 15 minutes it lasted. Scheduled for five rounds, the bout was stopped after the third frame once the Octagon-side physician, Dr. Nitin K. Sethi, called the bout due to cuts above (and below) Diaz’s right eye.

Naturally, combatants and fans alike were livid at the call, as it seemed Diaz’s wounds — although unfortunate — didn’t seem to warrant a doctor’s stoppage. Nevertheless, the fight was called, leaving everyone involved unsatisfied and wanting more.

Now, Sethi is speaking out and blasting fight fans who have threatened him for his decision, revealing that people are going as far as calling his office to threaten him and his staff.

”I’m a very good neurologist and a very good doctor, and calling me f*cking scum online and calling my office staff and yelling at them, threatening me, I fear for my health and safety,” he told MMA Fighting. “Somebody’s going to get hurt, and it’s probably going to be me this time. People don’t realize what they do when they talk about these things. But that’s the hard reality of this sport,” he added.

While Sethi wouldn’t give a medical explanation as to why he stopped the fight, citing the fighter/patient’s rights, he did touch a little bit about what went into his decision.

“I made an objective call based on my assessment of the fighter,” he said. “Not just the cut, but the overall assessment of the fighter (and) how the fight was going. Once I felt I could not guarantee the health and safety going forward, I had to make a tough call,” he said, while admitting he is very aware of Diaz's toughness and refusal to quit.

That said, he couldn't let the fear of boo birds and criticism prevent him from doing what he felt was right.

”The moment I lose my objectivity and I’m concerned how my actions are viewed by the UFC, by the fans, by the media, then I cease to be a ringside physician, and I cease to be doing my job. I have to be objective, and objectively, you make a call.”

Sethi says referee Dan Miragliotta expressed concern for Diaz after round two, which is surprising seeing as how Dan was visibly upset when he was instructed at the end of round three to wave the fight off.

”Going forward off that third round, I could not guarantee his health and safety,” he said. “When in doubt, you have to do what you have to do to protect the athlete’s safety. His health and safety comes first. Every action of mine has to be viewed with that foremost in everybody’s mind, but that doesn’t happen.”

Initially, UFC President Dana White was also upset at the call, but changed his tune during the post-fight presser (see it), saying he agreed with the stoppage after seeing Nate’s wounds up close backstage.

Still, Sethi is bothered by the fact that so many fans have decided to harass him for what he says was simply doing his job.

”It’s a shame that’s what it boils down to,” he said. “Anybody who’s involved in that sport should be hanging their head in shame when that happens. That’s not how sports are done. I’ve never experienced that, and I’ve been involved in a lot of sports,” he said while adding that this instance will now likely have a major impact on other doctor’s decisions moving forward.

And it’s not necessarily a good thing.

”After what happened to me, let me tell you one thing: The only thing sad about this will be you’ll have doctors who will now be very afraid to make calls,” he said. “And when people are scared to make calls because they’re so afraid of the repercussions, I think we’re entering dangerous territory.”

As far as an immediate rematch, White has already shut down that idea.