Bisping blasted those in charge of protecting Smith from a brutal beatdown at the hands of Glover Teixeira, saying the sport has a problem with allowing fighters to take too much punishment.
“I love Anthony Smith,” Bisping said on the ESPN+ post-fight show after Wednesday’s event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. “He works with us. He’s a part of the team. May the best man win, and that’s how I truly felt. But watching it there tonight, I was like, ‘My word, stop this fight.’ Either the corner and referee needs to do this. I love MMA, but we’ve got to catch up to boxing in regards to stopping the fight.”
Bisping’s co-commentator, UFC lightweight Paul Felder, agreed that Herzog and Smith coach Mark Montoya could have stepped in sooner in a fight that only got more brutal as the fight went into championship rounds.
“[Smith] was taking a beating, and Anthony Smith is as tough as they come,” Felder said. “He’s not going to quit. He’s not going to tell anyone he doesn’t want to do it. The ref was giving him every chance; he probably could have had a chance to stop that fight. Going into that fifth round, it’s your corner’s job to say, ‘You don’t seem mentally there. You’re saying that you are, but I’m not sure that you are.’”
UFC commentator and ex-champ Daniel Cormier also criticized Montoya’s performance.
“We are obligated to hold people accountable for what they’re doing tonight, I think [Smith’s coaches] did Anthony Smith a disservice,” he said.
"When your fighter starts complaining about teeth and things like that, he's giving you that 'Listen, I don't want to go back out there, but I'm not going to quit because I'm a warrior.'"@felderpaul and @dc_mma felt Anthony Smith's corner should have stopped the fight #UFCJax pic.twitter.com/5JCHlbFCP7— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 14, 2020
Bisping took that sentiment even further, pointing out a moment where Smith was caught on microphone telling Montoya that his teeth were falling out; Montoya later told ESPN Smith has veneers that have previously become dislodged, indicating it was not a new experience.
Bisping called Montoya a “tremendous coach” and lauded his corner work after the first round. But he said that as the fight went on, momentum shifted permanently and called for someone other than Smith to make the tough call.
“It came to a point where it seemed like Anthony wasn’t going to turn the tide,” he said. “He has a lot of heart – ‘Lionheart’ by name, ‘Lionheart’ by nature. But it came to a point where, it’s done. It’s over. He’s not going to win this fight. The referee should have stepped in. When you come to a point where your cornerman is picking up your teeth and putting them in his pocket, that’s a pretty good sign that this fight is nearing the end.”
Smith, whose loss reversed a triumphant win over three-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson this past June, was transported to an area hospital after the fight. Teixeira picked up his fourth straight win and a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus.