Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva II wasn’t much different from the first encounter between the two men, as the former made quick work out of the Brazilian behemoth once again, bringing their UFC 160 encounter to an end a few minutes into the first round.
Silva displayed improved takedown defense during their second fight, stuffing a couple of shots early on. Unfortunately for “Pezão,” Velasquez didn’t need to score a takedown to put him on the canvas, instead, he dropped Silva to the canvas with a huge right, followed by a savage barrage of punches that forced referee Mario Yamasaki to stop the fight.
Then the controversy began.
During the post-fight presser, Bigfoot complained that the punches which led to the stoppage were illegal strikes to the back of his head, and he’d like the see the UFC and athletic commissions all over start penalizing referees for failing to enforce the rules.
“I do agree that the fight was stopped too early,” Silva explained via a translator at the UFC 160 post-fight press conference. “The way that I think, my way of thinking is that the same that applies to athletes who are penalized when they do something wrong or illegal should be applied to referees when they do something wrong. They too should be penalized. … I don’t want to say too much, I’d rather you each just watch the fight playback. It’s clear watching it that I took several illegal blows to the back of my neck. And the referee explained to me that the first illegal blow is a warning that should be issued. The second should be penalized on points. But in seeing the playback, you can see that I took several illegal blows to the back of my neck.”
UFC president Dana White likes the concept of holding referees accountable for their errors.
“I love the idea of penalizing referees. That would be awesome,” White said. “Best idea ever in a long time.”
While many fans will probably brush off Silva’s comments as an excuse, he does address something that seems to be a recurring problem in MMA. A few punches straying away to the back of the head while trying to finish a fight from a back position has become the norm in mixed martial arts, and it needs to be addressed, given how damaging strikes to the neck and spine areas can potentially be.
However, dealing with the problem is not an easy task.
Remember when the same Mario Yamasaki disqualified Erick Silva for hitting Carlo Prater in the back of the head at UFC 142? You weren’t going ‘good job Mario for enforcing the rules’ were you?
Obviously, deciding when to penalize or ignore strikes to the back to head is a complicated process for referees, so it’s up to the sanctioning bodies to come up with a better protocol for them to follow.
How would you deal with it?