UFC President Dana White has hit out at the referee and "inexperienced" fight doctor after a controversial main event bout at UFC Apex.
There was drama in Las Vegas for the middleweight showdown between Derek Brunson and Edmen Shahbazyan, which the former one via a controversial third round stoppage.
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Most viewers thought the fight was done at the end of the second round when Brunson repeatedly pummelled his stricken opponent on the canvas.
Shahbazyan was wearying from Brunson’s heavy-handed assault and referee Herb Dean looked as if he was about to stop the fight.
The previously unbeaten Shahbazyan was on his back with his arms out a second before the bell and it appeared as though he was out, but Bruson was allowed to continue the punishment.
Dereck Brunson and Edmen Shahbazyan stepped into the octagon this morning, with the middleweight veteran Brunson sealing a third straight win in the UFC.#UFCVegas5— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) August 2, 2020
Watch the repeat here:
📺SS11 | 11:30 (CAT)pic.twitter.com/LEFNcj4qBx
Dean - who was criticised for a late stoppage last week - waved off Brunson's final beating just after the bell went to end the round, with commentators and viewers confused as to whether he was waving off the fight or simply signalling an end to the round.
The referee then called the doctor to conduct a check on Shahbazyan, before the American was eventually allowed back out for the third round after a lengthy break.
Shahbazyan was quickly subjected to more brutal punishment from Brunson before the referee did actually stop the fight - many viewers insisting it should have been done before the third round even started.
“Herb Dean is a great referee but his confidence is not high right now,” ESPN’s Brett Okamoto tweeted.
“He just half waved off the fight after the second round. If referees need to be anything, it’s decisive.”
Herb Dean is a great referee but his confidence is not high right now. He just half waved off the fight after the second round. If referees need to be anything, it's decisive.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) August 2, 2020
The UFC boss agreed, also taking aim at the fight doctor for the bizarre scenes.
“Shahbazyan looked like he was out at the end of that round,” White said after the fight.
“I think that the doctor could have stopped it.”
“First of all, the doctor’s obviously inexperienced. I don’t know anything about the doctor, but I haven’t seen him before.
“You’ve got Brunson who ends that round strong; many could argue that fight could have been stopped right there at the end of the round.
ana White had a *few* thoughts on the cageside doctor after Derek Brunson's TKO win over Edmen Shahbazyan at #UFCVegas5:— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) August 2, 2020
"Don't talk to the guy for f*cking 10 minutes while he's hurt. Stop the fight, or let him continue."
Watch full video: https://t.co/HuQOMk76H3 pic.twitter.com/P9xamdLeMO
UFC boss slams doctor, referee
“What you don’t do is talk to the guy for f***ing ten minutes while he’s hurt.
“You either stop the fight, or let him continue. But go.
“You’re letting the kid recover while you’ve got Brunson who just did that work and is waiting for the bell to ring so he can go in and finish the fight.
“Pull the trigger one way or another. Stop the fight, or don’t.”
Brunson said after the fight that he didn't see an issue with the referee and doctor allowing the fight to continue.
“I know the media is talking a lot about stopping fights, but if you stop everything, then there can never be a comeback,” Brunson said.
Brunson’s career has largely been a case of almosts. He’s had a series of misfortunes in his career that caused him to miss training camp, but he’s the kind of guy who won’t say no to a fight.
So he fought despite not training for two weeks while a hurricane hit. He fought only a few days after being sidelined for about a week with the flu. He’s missed large stretches of camp more times than he could count because of issues in his life he’s had to deal with, and it’s kept him from reaching that top tier in the sport.
The win over Shahbazyan, who came into the fight ranked No. 9, could be the win that propels him up the ladder, though there are nothing but elite fighters ahead of him in the rankings.
“This kid was no slouch,” Brunson said of Shahbazyan.
Brunson proved that he was no slouch, either, and is potentially a lot more. He mixed his wrestling and striking expertly and ate the big shots, particularly the body strikes, that Shahbazyan threw at him.
Perhaps most importantly, he drew the attentions of his boss, who was highly impressed.
“He looked awesome,” the UFC president said.
“He came in here against a young, up-and-coming savage who wanted to be one of the youngest champions ever and he did what he needed to do.
"He’s had some ups and downs in his career, but he came in here prepared and fought the way he needed to.”
with Yahoo Sports US