Several times you could see the referee torn between wanting to stop the carnage but instead he asked the fighter to defend himself. Mark Hunt would make some motions with his arms, move around to try to improve his position.
He would even throw a couple of feeble punches but nothing that could be described as intelligently defending himself. Stipe Miocic continued to pound away at Hunt’s face until the end of the round.
Surely the fight would be stopped between rounds. It was clear that Miocic had won the fight and there was no reason to continue.
After three rounds Miocic had landed 229 strikes to Hunt’s 39. In the third round alone Miocic landed 125 of 149 overall strikes to Hunt’s 6 of 10. At one point in the third round Miocic stopped hitting Hunt and looked at the referee to stop the fight. Miocic could recognize that the fight was over and Hunt did not need to take anymore punishment. Hunt’s toughness had been proven many times in the past.
This fight should have ended in the third round. The referee seemed poised for a moment like he was going to stop it but for some reason he did not. Instead, it continued and what started as a fight had turned into a beating.
The night was going so well at UFC Fight Night Adelaide on Fight Pass. The card had been filled with exciting fights and a lot of finishes. One of them had just taken place in the co-main event when Robert Whittaker had stopped Brad Tavares in the first round. It was the second straight stoppage in the middleweight division by the young Australian.
A couple more like that in the top ten and he will be fighting for the title one day.
The crowd was ready to cheer for Hunt in the finals against Stipe Miocic. Whitaker had them amped up with is exciting win.
However, the fight would not cooperate with their hopes and dreams of another exciting Hunt win. It was not even an exciting Mark Hunt loss. Instead the fans were forced to witness a beating because the referee, the ringside doctor and Hunt’s corner all chose to let it happen. They are the three people responsible for looking out for Hunt during the fight, a man clearly too tough for his own wellbeing.
The Macho Culture and incompetent officials
It is hard to say when the culture in MMA changed about throwing in the towel. Maybe it is too separate themselves from boxing or maybe it is a by-product of the macho-culture but somewhere along the way people stopped throwing in the towel in MMA. You see it boxing on a regular basis and in the early days of the UFC, but now rarely does it happen in the octagon. It should have in the Hunt and Miocic fight.
It is hard to understand why Hunt’s corner sent him out in the fourth and fifth rounds. The only hope they had of winning this fight was if Miocic broke his hands on Hunt’s head and could not continue.
This was not like the classic fight with Bigfoot Silva which was a back and forth battle. In that fight each fighter had their moments in this one it was all Miocic. Of course they wanted to believe in Hunt and his incredible ability to take punishment and turn it around with one strike.
They also should recognize what is happening in front of them. Hunt was beaten in the third round and only his incredible will and heart kept him going. That is when his corner should step-in and protect him from himself.
It was even harder to understand why the doctor continued to allow him to go out for the final two rounds. He looked at Hunt closely between rounds but still let him go out. The doctor seemed to act more like a fan who wanted to see Hunt win than a professional doctor looking out for his safety. It makes you wonder if he was watching the fight. If he was able to see what everyone else saw, that Hunt had no chance to win. Sending him back out was subjecting him to more punishment.
It seems like while the sport is changing in some regards to the machoism culture regarding training, it is still clinging to it during the actual fight.
It is the never-say-quit attitude that we love to watch, but it is exactly because some fighters have that mentality that they need to be saved from themselves. We admire Hunt for somehow always getting up and taking massive amounts of punishment but we do not want to watch him get permanently injured. It felt like that was happening during this beating. At the very least Hunt took unnecessary damage during this fight.
It could be argued that every fight is unnecessary damage. That these fighters are not fighting for a cause or a country, but because they choose to fight. There is also money involved but it is still their choice to fight.
They also choose to fight with rules and people in place to protect them during the fight. Those people failed both Hunt and Miocic on this night. It is fortunate that Hunt was not severely hurt.
The rules in place to protect the fighters are only as good as the people enforcing them. The referee should have stopped the fight in they third round, the doctor should have stopped in between the rounds and Hunt’s corner should have thrown in the towel. None of those actions would have taken away from Hunt but all would have protected him from taking unnecessary damage.
For a young sport that is still trying to grow fights like this one will set it back. A beating like this is impossible to defend it as a fair fight. The UFC cannot be happy about this and there is only so much they can do in this situation.
The doctors and referees are assigned by the commissions, and with the exception of California, most do not regulate their officials based on in-events performance. The UFC can only offer suggestions to people but they cannot do anything about it, except to maybe educate people better. They cannot afford too many more fights like that one to take place. It was the type of beating that makes fans turn away from the UFC and the sport.
You have to wonder what Reebok thought of the fight and the night. The last part of that fight is the type that turns casual fans away from the sport. It can even turn hardcore fans away. It cannot be the kind of fight they were signing up to sponsor. This comes after Reebok was booed by the crowd after Sam Alvey mentioned them in his post-fight interview. I am sure they are not paying 72 million dollars to be booed by people whenever their name is mentioned. Between that, and the final fight of the night it is hard to see many mainstream sponsors flocking to the UFC right now.