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14th May 2018

‘Big’ John McCarthy’s take on UFC 224’s biggest controversy is bang on the money

Hard to argue with that

Ben Kiely

‘Big’ John McCarthy has seen it all.

Legendary referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy was in the Mexico City Arena for UFC 188. Although he wasn’t officiating the fight, he was cageside for the bout between Kelvin Gastelum and Nate Marquardt, a fight which suddenly became relevant again this week.

Marquardt was on the receiving end of a one-sided beating. Gastelum was piecing him up and the result never seemed beyond doubt. A dominant Gastelum victory was inevitable.

When Marquardt stumbled back to his corner after the penultimate round ended, his coach Trevor Wittman was concerned. He bent down in front of the fighter’s stool, told him to look in his eye and asked him if he was ok to continue. Once Marquardt said, ‘I’m done,’ Wittman agreed. After confirming that Marquardt wanted out, he told the referee they were conceding the fight.

It’s over

Wittman received widespread praise for his handling of the situation. The same cannot be said of Raquel Pennington’s corner at UFC 224. When they were presented with the exact same scenario during her title fight against Amanda Nunes, they did the exact opposite. When Pennington told them she was done after being beaten up for four rounds, they sent her back in anyway. The knockout finish from the champion came just a couple of minutes later.

While the likes of Tecia Torres, Miesha Tate, Pennington and Din Thomas have supported the decision, the majority have criticised the corner for ignoring their fighter’s plea. ‘Big’ John McCarthy is in the camp that feels they should have thrown in the towel.

Fighters, especially fighters at the highest level, have a delusional level of confidence in their own abilities. Even if they are being annihilated, most will feel they can dig deep to pull a Hail Mary victory out of the bag. While this kind of perseverance through hardship is admirable, McCarthy believes the reward of winning a fight is not worth the long-term damage.

Words of wisdom from the Bellator man. It’s really hard to argue against his reasoning. Although, that won’t stop people trying.