Three times, Varner fell without being touched, unable to put any pressure on his left leg. Varner gutted out the round to its painful conclusion before the ringside doctor waved off the fight.
While it's easy to second-guess referee Jason Herzog for not stopping the bout when Varner was clearly injured, UFC president Dana White won't do so.
"Usually they'll quit, guys will tap out and say ‘ahhh, I broke my ankle," White said. "There was no quit in that kid. That's one of those situations where, he kept going. That's a tough one."
Varner, the former WEC lightweight champion, tweeted later he suffered two fractures and torn ligaments. White praised Varner's valor.
"By the end of that round he's like, ‘that's it, I'm done,'" White said. "He fought that whole round. The corner didn't throw in the towel, the ref didn't stop the fight, but he wasn't complaining, either. You'll see guys, lesser things happen and guys try to stop. Varner is all heart and that's a tough one. "
However, if White says if he was the cornerman for the fight, he wouldn't have let things go as far as they did.
"If that was my guy," White said. "I would have thrown the towel in, in a second."