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Is Frankie Edgar Right to Want to go Limp Before Fight Gets Stopped?

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(Frankie Edgar walks back to his corner between rounds during his fight against Gray Maynard during the UFC 136 event at Toyota Center on October 8, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo: Nick Laham/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

“If it’s me, let me be limp before you stop it. It’s tough to be a ref, especially in that situation when they’ve got to protect the fighters. But I want every chance I can get. Let me go out on my shield,” Edgar told MMAJunkie Radio recently in a piece titled ‘King of comebacks Frankie Edgar discusses fine line with early stoppages’.

Immediately, images of Edgar (15-4-1) reeling backwards as then-title challenger Gray Maynard raced towards the former lightweight champion after dropping him in the first round of their UFC 125 main event bout come to mind.

Edgar was battered as he hobbled around the Octagon, but was able to persevere and fight back to a draw and an automatic title retention. But was a draw worth the risk?

In the first round alone, Edgar received half of all the shots that Maynard landed to the head, in the first round (43 of 81 according to FightMetric) and despite out striking Maynard in the next four rounds, he was still almost twenty landed punches shy of Maynard’s total (Maynard: 81 – Edgar: 64).

(Photo Courtesy via UFC.com/ZUFFA LLC./Getty Images)
(Photo Courtesy via UFC.com/ZUFFA LLC./Getty Images)

Edgar won their rubber match at UFC 136 to put their trilogy to an end, but again, didn’t escape unscathed.

“It’s definitely the referee’s discretion, but I want every chance to come back. In the Maynard fights, someone else may have stopped it. Obviously the ref didn’t, and he made the right choice because I bounced back.”

Was the draw worth the fight though? Would a first round referee stoppage, regardless of the fight’s eventual outcome do more good for Edgar than it did bad?

I would much rather be disappointed by a premature stoppage that aids in a fighter’s long-term health, than watch a guy get brutalized in the first round with the next four rounds standing as untold stories of potential violence, tilted away from Edgar’s favor, and building on the lopsided first round.

Where MMA has a luxury in the Boxing vs. MMA health debate in that there is no standing 8 count. A fighter goes down, catches a few more shots (hopefully not too many past what is needed – See Bellator 113: Frederick Brown vs. Daniel Gallemore) and the fight is called right then and there. Couple that with grappling time, smaller gloves, and normally three, with occasional five round title fights, and you have a sport that exposes a fighter to a lot less punishment than 12 rounds of punches.

Taking his quotes out of context could be a very easy offense to make, but what Edgar is saying seems pretty black and white. He wants to be put out to the point where he can’t continue, physically. Even as someone who has put a lot of miles on his body having fought in five round title fights in seven of his last eight bouts, with six out of those seven title fights going all the way to a decision.

The wins over BJ Penn didn’t take much of a physical toll on Edgar, especially in the second fight, but his first bout with Maynard sparked a string of close bouts that were decided on the razor’s edge, often with Edgar being rocked in a pivotal turning point, for each respective bout.

I’m not calling for a retirement from Edgar or even a safer fight plan, necessarily, but going limp after a long series of shots, instead of a single well-timed and perfectly placed punch, or even a handful in a combination, can seriously call in to question not only the referee, but also the unwritten rules of ‘intelligent defense’.

As for the loss, Edgar would have likely gotten an immediate rematch as he was the man who dethroned BJ Penn — and then defeated again to defend his belt — should have deserved, and he would have pocketed $101K (instead of $162,000) because of his show money and ‘Fight of the Night’ Bonus. Not a bad payday for potentially holding on to a larger chunk of health.

UFC president Dana White has touched on the issue several times and often backs stoppages that are deemed early by the public, but bashes those that are clearly a few punches too late as in the case of Chris Weidman vs. Mark Munoz.

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Take an extreme case in the biggest promotion in the world. A UFC 96 welterweight bout between Matt Brown and Pete Sell. FightMetric has the significant shots for Brown at staggering 24 out of 31 landed and total strikes were 44 out of 51. He ran out and landed several consecutive head kicks and a big punch that floored Sell. Referee Yves Lavigne physically held Brown back but decided that Sell wasn’t done yet and let Brown go, who attacked Sell once more, running in with his hands down as Sell guarded himself. Brown even motioned to the referee in a moment of confusion but there was no stoppage for Sell’s sake.

Sell had a 26-second break as he worked for a takedown but in the end, an upset Brown had to finish Sell a couple of times before the official end of the fight arrived.

Brown also scored two knockdowns in the fight and the finish came when Brown was standing over a clearly out-of-it Sell, who was on the ground in the first place after absorbing a few punches, stepping back, and then falling down with a delay reaction from the build-up of punishment.

What were Brown’s numbers for the fight?

He went 0 for 1 on total strikes.

An extreme case but one that does happen, even if visually, it doesn’t look as sickening as this one.

This is why Edgar’s quote is out of touch. As CagePotato covered the Marlon Moraes vs. Josh Rettinghouse beating, the same can be said for any fight, including a potential loss for Edgar that results in him going completely limp. It would take a special king of narcissism to want a fighter to be put well peat what should be allowed, just to warrant a ‘timely’ stoppage when a good stoppage and a late stoppage are often separated by a single punch.

 

Thanks to FightMetric.com for the stats.