Cornermen are known around the scope of combat sports as being the eyes and ears for their fighters. They also share instructional words of wisdom to assist their athlete’s performance.
Fighting in the UFC is certainly an extremely dangerous career. Only a handful of fighters have suffered serious injuries inside the octagon, but it’s a possibility that’s there every time they step into the cage. Due to the kind of dangers involved, it’s important fighters can trust the coaches in their corner completely.
While a fighter will always give whatever they have left in the tank to go out and try to win a fight, the people in his or her corner should be managing the health and safety of their respective fighter. Cornermen should never hesitate to step in and prohibit genuine life-changing damage on their athletes.
Corner stoppages are a common occasion in boxing, whereas in MMA, coaches rarely throw in
the towel. Some believe the reason for this discrepancy is the win/bonus
structure of UFC pay. While others have suggested that the increased possibility of comebacks
created by four-ounce gloves, has encouraged coaches to simply never give up on their fighter.
The referee inside the cage should be above reproach because their job is all about stopping the
fight when they deem the fighter has nothing left to give. They should be protecting fighters that get knocked out. Although officials are important in any sport, they are there to ensure the
safety of the athletes. A fighter’s corner should never leave the safety and well-being of a fighter
in the hands of the referee and/or the ringside doctor.
UFC coaches do have their fighter’s best interests at heart. But at times, fighters have found
themselves let down. Here are a few times fighters should have been protected:
May 12, 2018: Amanda Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington
Nunes put an absolute ass whooping on Pennington. In between the fourth and fifth rounds, Pennington tells her corner that she is done. Her cornermen then tells her to power through this and sends her out for the fifth and final round.
Less than three minutes into the fifth round, she is finished for the first time in her career. Fighters win and lose in the Octagon… But why did Pennington’s corner not listen to their fighter and obey her wishes?
May 13, 2020: Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira
Smith was the victim of a brutal one-sided beatdown that ultimately saw him stopped in fifth-round of the main event. Smith got out to a good start early in the fight but faded as the fight progressed. In the third round he was on the receiving end of this decisive fight. Teixeira would win by fifth round TKO, but Smith would suffer a broken nose, broken orbital bone and had two of his teeth knocked out. Smith absorbed large amounts of unnecessary damage due to his corner not throwing in the towel or referee Jason Herzog stopping the fight.
March 5, 2022: Rafael dos Anjos (RDA) vs. Renato Moicano
RDA was dominating the fight, so much so that the commentary team, fans, and fighters on social media said the fight should be stopped. Moicano, who took the fight on short notice, was examined by the ringside doctor twice and was warned by referee Marc Goddard to pick up the pace or he was calling the fight. Moicano, to his credit, fought a spirited fifth round but RDA seemed to take his foot off the gas to spare more damage, being that Moicano’s corner seemed unwilling to protect him.
This ‘Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword’ moniker can only go so far before permanent, irreparable harm is inflicted on these fighters. Safety must come first and it has to start with the cornermen.