Last Saturday night the UFC rolled into Tampa Bay with a stacked card of fighters that are a representation of what the future holds for the promotion as far as talent is concerned. Young fighters, more evolved than their predecessors at the same stage of their respective careers, as should be expected as the sport of mixed martial arts is no longer in its infancy, it’s a toddler thirsty for knowledge, and learning at a rapid rate. The future is undoubtedly bright for the UFC.
There was one fight on the card, Mike “Beastboy” Davis vs Thomas ” The Young Lion” Gifford that has had the MMA community up in arms about what took place that night in the octagon, or rather what they feel didn’t, but should have happened as far as when the fight should have ended, and all the anger and outrage is being hurled at referee Andrew Glenn, and it shouldn’t be in my opinion.
Mike Davis came out on fire after taking the fight on four days notice. He came ready, and he came to work and get his first octagon win under his belt, which he did in dominating fashion for 14 minutes and 45 seconds of the bout, at which time he landed a perfect left-right combination that finally felled the tough and durable Gifford and left him face down on the canvas inside the octagon after taking one of the worst beatings many have ever seen.
Gifford was in trouble from early on in the fight as Davis was not to be denied on this night. Punches and kicks were absorbed by Gifford, a country boy at heart and we all know that there is no-quit in a country boy, that’s not how they are bred. You are gonna have to damn near kill a country boy, and even then he probably won’t quit. I for one was impressed with the chin and heart of Gifford and his never back down attitude and performance that night. I was a fan before, and I am a bigger fan now.
Many people including former Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping were chastising Glenn for not stopping the fight earlier in the contest because of the amount of punishment being absorbed by Gifford at the hands of Davis. I was not one of those people.
I saw only one moment where Glenn could have stopped the bout and that was in the last few seconds of round one where Davis was raining down heavy punches on Gifford while he was on his back, and although he was taking damage, he was coherent, responsive and covering up as best he could, you know defending or rather protecting himself. Gifford survived the onslaught to fight on into the second and third rounds until he was knocked out with 15 seconds left in the fight, he wasn’t finished. (final stats below). The numbers make it look like Gifford was in the fight, but he wasn’t. Davis was in control from the jump. However, as you can see from the stats, Gifford was working. He wasn’t landing with the power and accuracy of his opponent, but he was doing whatever he could. Gifford likened his loss to Jesus on the cross in this quote:
- “I’m never been done that way either Mike Davis was the better man last night and I tried to give him all the fight I had in me till I couldn’t no more exactly how Jesus took a lashing and got nailed to the cross if he would of gave up on us we would all go into the lake of fire!”
Glenn a veteran referee did his job. He allowed the fighters to fight and gave Gifford the chance to stay in the fight. Some media members are saying Gifford was concussed in round one, and the fight should have ended there. I don’t know one media person who doubles as a doctor, or that was the attending ringside physician that night. What I do know based on my own up-close experience working with the Florida State Boxing Commission as an announcer for the last 12 years, and being cage/ringside for hundreds of fights is the Florida commission employs some incredible doctors for fights and the ones assigned to UFC Tampa were keeping an eye on Gifford all through the fight, which I can attest to because I was right there.
I don’t know one fight doctor in Florida that would let a fight continue when a fighter couldn’t go or defend themselves anymore.
Glenn didn’t work anymore fights that evening. I reached out to the commission, and am waiting for a response as to why he didn’t work any fights after that. Executive Director Patrick Cunningham was in attendance as well but could not be reached for comment at the time of this article.
If Gifford truly was not able to continue, then his corner should have called for the fight to be stopped, which they didn’t. Maybe it’s because they know how tough he (Gifford) is. The corner knows their athlete better than the referees and the doctors, so they know what their athlete can and can’t handle. However, the corner also needs to pull the trigger on a fight that their fighter is truly not in and sustaining unnecessary damage, and if they are unwilling to do that they should not be in the corner. I get the fact that the fighter may say don’t stop it no matter what. That is ego and pride talking and should be ignored by a corner-person for the safety of the fighter.
Gifford took one of the worst beatings in recent memory Saturday night in Tampa, and the keyword in that statement is “took” because he took the best that Davis had to offer and kept on coming. Davis himself felt the fight should have been stopped as well and was also wondering how this kid Gifford was still standing, something many of those watching thought as well. We don’t want to see these athletes sustain the brutality we saw Gifford endure at UFC Tampa, however, this is what fighting is and these fighters know what they signed up for!
So if this fight was going to be stopped in my opinion, the corner was responsible for that. Also, Gifford had no broken bones, and from what I am told did not suffer a concussion. His biggest injury is to his pride, and he is already healed from that.
There was another fight on the card featuring Niko Price vs. James Vick that was officiated by Herb Dean. In this bout, Vick was knocked out cold by Price with a perfectly placed up-kick to the jaw that rendered Vick unconscious on contact. You will see in the picture below that Dean was in the position to make the stoppage, but didn’t for reasons that are beyond me.
Herb Dean is one of the most recognizable names in the referee pool and is probably the most experienced official at every event he works. With that being said, his lack of stepping in to stop Vick from eating what I counted to be 5 brutal shots to his head when he was knocked out is inexcusable! I was 20 feet from the octagon and saw Vick go limp as he crumpled on top of Price. The viewers watching on ESPN, and the 15,000 plus in the arena knew Vick was out. Dean was 20 inches away and he didn’t recognize an unconscious fighter, that is not a comforting thought to digest as a fan but more importantly as an athlete who may have to have Dean officiate their fight.
Besides the dereliction of duty by Dean in my opinion, what angers me more is that nobody has called out Dean, other than me. Andrew Glenn is getting crucified and Dean is taking photos with fans. The lack of criticism towards Dean in this scenario is sickening to me. Glenn let a conscious fighter who was getting his ass kicked fight, while Dean let an unconscious man get punched in the head! How can Glenn be crucified, and nobody is saying anything about Dean? Is it because of his being a “famous” referee so he is being given a pass by the MMA community?
There is no excuse for letting Vick continue to endure damage when he was out cold. In my book, there is only one referee from UFC Tampa that deserves to be criticized or sanctioned for not performing their job properly, and his name isn’t Andrew Glenn, it’s Herb Dean.
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.