UFC 148 was last night and the main event was a rematch of Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. I won’t go into a full fight recap, but short story is Sonnen dominated first round, then in the second Silva hit him with a devastating knee to the chest, and finally finished Sonnen with hammer fists. Silva won a record 10th straight title defense and 15th straight UFC victory by defeating the only guy who gave him any trouble, cementing himself as the Greatest Of All Time.
A common reaction was “Why did the ref stop the fight? Silva’s final punches weren’t that bad, and Sonnen was adequately defending most of them anyway.”
Answer: First off, I’d like to see you get hit by Anderson Silva, especially a flying knee to the chest, and live to tell the tale. To say these hits are “not that bad” is to greatly under appreciate the danger of Anderson Silva. The Rule, more importantly, is the ref has to stop a fight once one fighter is no longer able to safely continue the bout. The power or severity of Silva’s last punches may be in question – but how hard he was hitting Sonnen when the ref stopped the fight is ultimately irrelevant. Silva was continuously hitting Sonnen and Sonnen was curling into a ball and protecting his face, doing nothing to improve his position. Silva could’ve been hitting him with pillows and it wouldn’t have mattered. According to the rules, referee Yves Lavine had no choice –his responsibility was to protect the fighters (even from themselves) and once Sonnen stopped intelligently defending himself the fight was over. Guys have survived barrages and come back before, which is why Refs wait in this situation to stop fights, but more often they can no longer defend themselves, which is why this rule is in place.
Anderson Silva is famous for his spectacular finishes, which is what everyone rooting for him was hoping for and probably assuming. Last night’s finish, while not as extravagant, was completely valid. As a fan, I would’ve liked Dana White/ Referee Lavine to let the fight go a hair past safety, but that’s unfair and unwarranted.