HOUSTON -- Unlike their second fight, referee Herb Dean mercifully stopped Cain Velasquez's vicious beating of Junior dos Santos midway through the fifth round of UFC 166's main event. But in the eyes of UFC President Dana White, that decision came far too late.
"That fight should've been stopped in the third," White told reporters afterward.
"I'm a guy who's been around the sport for a long time, and boxing, and seen men who are too tough for their own good. And I think Junior dos Santos is one of those guys, in the last Cain fight and in this Cain fight. And I think that fight should've been stopped. I just don't think he needed to take anymore punishment."
Just as he had at UFC 155, Velasquez dominated dos Santos on Saturday night, brutalizing his Brazilian rival with a relentless array of powerful boxing and clinch work.
Dos Santos gamely stood in the pocket and ate shot after shot without dropping, yet the battered former champion appeared to be out on his feet throughout portions of the third round, held up only by the fence.
"I wanted to throw in the towel," White said.
"If you watch that third round again when he's getting hit, his arms are [out]. He's not defending himself, he doesn't have his hands up. He's out."
Cageside doctors studied the severe swelling and cuts adorning dos Santos' face several times, however the Brazilian was allowed to continue in each instance, and the damage only grew more macabre.
Following the trilogy fight, dos Santos was transferred immediately to a local hospital where he underwent a litany of tests, primarily for injury that, in White's mind, was unnecessary.
"There's no need for a young, talented guy to take that kind of punishment when he's out on his feet," White said. "I was kinda hoping somebody was going to throw the towel in or the ref would come stop it, or the doctor was going to stop it. One eye was closed, and the other was cut wide open. He was hurt.
"I don't want this to come out the wrong way, but I'm a believer. I always like to say that if anybody in his f--king corner cares about him, please, throw in that towel. I thought the fight was done in the third round. Is Junior dos Santos tough enough and does he have the heart to go through it? Yeah, but does that mean he should? If you look at the fight, it ended in the fifth. That guy took seven, eight minutes more punishment that he didn't need to take until it ended. That seven or eight minutes, I don't know man. I just, I don't like it."