This past weekend, Rafael dos Anjos put a vicious beating on Renato Moicano in the co-main event of UFC 272. Moicano, who accepted the fight on just four days’ notice, was repeatedly taken down and mauled on the ground for the better part of 25 minutes, to the point where the UFC’s commentary team suggested that his corner should stop the fight.
In the aftermath, much has been made of the decision to allow the fight to continue, with some suggesting that the fact that Moicano staged a small comeback in the fifth round is proof that his coaches had it right all along. However, UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping is sticking to his guns.
Bisping was in the commentary booth for UFC 272, where he staunchly argued that Moicano’s corner was doing their fighter a disservice by allowing the bout to continue. A few days removed from the event, he maintains that they should have thrown in the towel.
“It does [make me uncomfortable],” Bisping said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “The last thing I would ever want to do is have my words be construed as insulting to Moicano. I have tremendous respect for what he did and what he went through — to step up to the plate on Tuesday and take on dos Anjos for five rounds at a catchweight is an incredible feat of bravery in itself. But the reality is, after three rounds, he was not gonna win that fight. It’s impossible to win a decision, he didn’t have the snap or the pop to beat dos Anjos or finish dos Anjos, and he was just beaten by the better man on the night. That’s how it goes.”
Moicano certainly was beaten, with dos Anjos even admitting that he intentionally “took his foot off the gas” in the fifth round because he was so far ahead. But despite the severity of the beatdown, Moicano was complimentary of referee Marc Goddard for allowing the fight to continue, saying earlier this week that, “otherwise, I would not know what I’m made of.”
That fighter mentality is the exact reason why corner stoppages exist in combat sports, so coaches can protect their fighters from their own toughness; however, corner stoppages in MMA are rare, and Bisping believes it’s because that same sort of fighter mentality has made its way to the coaches as well.
“In mixed martial arts, for whatever reason, we just don’t see it,” Bisping said. “I know Jason Parillo threw the towel in when B.J. Penn fought Georges St-Pierre for the second time. There aren’t many other occasions I can think of where that happens. ... But in boxing, it’s a common thing. It happens a lot. I think that a lot of coaches [in MMA] need to man up. You’re looking after your fighter. I think what it is, a lot of coaches attach their ego to the fighter, because they go through it together. They want them to win, and then by winning, that is kind of like the coach winning as well. And if the fighter’s losing, that’s the coach losing.”
In the end, the coach’s job is to protect the health and safety of their fighter — and while that can be made more difficult in a sport structured around win bonuses, Bisping argues that by failing to protect their fighters, coaches are jeopardizing not just a fighter’s health, but also their long-term career prospects
“Sometimes you’ve got to say, ‘You know what, today’s not our day. You’re gonna lose and I want you to continue to have a long, fruitful career.’ Because nevermind the physical damage they’re going to endure in that fight — Moicano was a mess, let’s be honest — the psychological damage is even more,” Bisping said. “It’s one thing to get caught. If you get caught by a shot and you get knocked out, fighters have a great way of convincing ourselves, ‘Well we just got caught. We all get caught here and there.’
“But to get systematically beaten down for five rounds to where commentators say this needs to be stopped, there’s psychological trauma there. That’s going to affect your confidence going forward, and there’s a potential that fighter may never be the same again. So right then and there, if they’re stopping that fight, they are saving the fighter’s career.
“So what, you lose some here and there. Go home, feel sorry for yourself, heal up, and get back in the saddle. Doing that [not stopping the fight], you never know, there could be lifelong injuries.”