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Did Joe Warren Tap, Or Did An Overzealous Referee Cost Him His Shot At Dream Featherweight Glory?

(Props: MMA TKO)

Though Joe Warren insisted that he didn’t tap and wasn’t in any real trouble when the referee stepped in to stop his Dream featherweight GP bout against Bibiano Fernandes earlier this week, the evidence seems to suggest that at least one of those claims is unfounded.  Here we see Warren clamp his right hand on to Fernandes’ knee as the armbar is applied, and then, after he falls face first on to the mat, there’s the slightest hint of a tapping motion.  It’s not enough to be a real I-give-up-and-would-like-to-go-home-now tap, but perhaps just the physical manifestation of the little voice inside Warren’s head saying, ‘Damn, we’re in a tight spot.’

But maybe that’s not the point at all.  Maybe the question is, should a referee be stopping bouts because he thinks one of the fighters is about to suffer bone and/or ligament damage?  

It’s one thing when a fighter is being beaten senseless.  We understand the need for referee intervention then because a) brain damage and possibly even death might only be one more punch away, and b) the fighter might be too disoriented to know he’s even in a fight, much less capable of quitting one.  But submissions are a different ballgame.

For instance, never do you see a referee stop a fight because a fighter is locked in a choke.  At least, you never see it until he’s choked unconscious, at which point there’s usually not much disagreement.  But the reason refs don’t stop fighters in chokes is because they realize that even if he doesn’t get out, the result isn’t going to be life-threatening or cause serious long-term damage. 

It’s slightly different with an armbar, but not by much.  In Joe Warren’s situation, a broken arm would have been the worst-case scenario.  And while having a cast on your arm is a sure way to ruin your summer break, it’s probably not going to be a serious long-term injury and it certainly isn’t life-threatening.  It’s just a bummer. 

So why couldn’t the ref have let things go here, just to see if Warren’s arm ended up bending the wrong way?  There was no way for him to know how much Warren’s arm could take, or how much strain it was under.  There are times to err on the side of caution, and times to let a guy get his arm jacked up if that’s what it takes for him to learn.  Kind of seems like the Warren-Fernandes fight was an instance of the latter.


  1. Smitty Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:29

    Warren just needs to get in touch with his inner bitchassness.
  2. Douchey McDoucherton Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:31

    I saw a tap when I first saw that fight, and I laughed right after too. Somebody should tell Warren to think before he says he's "Unbeatable"
  3. Fight Fan Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:33

    Doesn't he realize the thing's being taped? I mean the camera guy is like three feet away from him. Idiot.
  4. mjmcnns Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:36

    It's pretty apparent he did not tap. Submission requires a definite tapping motion...not one hand making contact once. That's ridiculous and has never been the application of the rule. All of that said, I think the official did an outstanding job of protecting the fighter's safety. I'm supportive of referees intervening in a case like this.
  5. LockDown Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:37

    I can't believe it is still being discussed. Warren tapped and if he didn't tap prolly he would have an awful injuries in his elbow/arm ligaments. It's unfair discuss what is up to the ref to do in situations like that. The ref was OK, no polemic tonight.
  6. itsgalf Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:37

    While the ref should have just let Joe Warren get hurt since he's a bitch....the result would have been the same. He wasn't going to power himself out miraculously from that position
  7. Fight Fan Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:38

    Not sure arms and legs being broken is the best thing for MMA in the mainstream. Refs gotta err on the side of caution.
  8. EDoggFunkMonk Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:51

    This is more C.B. Dollaway (vs. Saddolah) than Chael Sonnen (vs. Filho). C.B. tapped like he was in a training session. Chael didn't tap but the ref stopped it.
  9. VistingDeadAncestors Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:52

    How much deeper did Warren want that armbar sunk? Shit was LOCKED. He did a"I'm-tapping-even-though-I-don't-want-to-so-I'm-doing-it-subtly" tap.
  10. EDoggFunkMonk Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:53

    But the ref made the right call. MMA purist will insist the arm should be broken if the guy doesn't tap but the people using their brain realize this could inflict permanent damage and isn't good for the sport.
  11. Miles Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:57

    Looks like enough of a tap to me. If you don't want to submit don't do a fucking tapping motion, period
  12. Da Spied Her Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 03:59

    He tapped just enough for Bibi to feel it, hoping he would let up without the referee stopping the fight. It's an old trick, and it didn't work. So quit your bitching.
  13. portland mma Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 04:02

    The funniest thing is that he said he wasn't in any real trouble? really that sure looked like a shit ton of trouble to me.
  14. portland mma Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 04:04

    I agree Da spied her, its what CB Dollaway does in every fucking fight.
  15. kangerpang Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 04:09

    Shit, even Jesus would have tapped in that armbar, oh wait...............
  16. for the love of mma Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 04:12

    warren wasnt getting out of that armbar!! and he knew it and he didnt beat kid yamamoto hands down either!! he's no rampage or couture he just another fighter the ref is looking out for!!!!
  17. imakeutap Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 04:24

    if you look closely u can see warren had turned his arm to prevent bibiano from completing armbar, if that was a real armbar then his arm would be broken right now sometimes in training you will be in a armbar but you are able to turn your arm, still feels like you are close to the breaking point so you hesitantly tap when in reality you could have lasted longer just my two sense from a guy that trains jiu jitsu 4 days a week
  18. portland mma Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 04:28

    You should use your other 3 senses then.
  19. One Two Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 04:29

    he was caught regardless you don't get the benifit of doubt when its your 3rd fight, besides its more about intelligently defending yourself than damage in MMA.
  20. King_KP Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 05:21

    When your arm is fully extended and the only reason the guy doesn't snap your arm off is because he feels a light tap twice on his knee, you lose. Same thing with C.B ... the pressure gets let off and he thinks, hey, I guess I didn't need to tap...and I only tapped lightly so maybe people missed it...
  21. Monstrosity Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 06:03

    Looked to be the same kind of tap CB Dalloway used against Amir. It wasn't much of a tap but still a tap. its only 1 loss man you will be ok.
  22. Monstrosity Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 06:06

    Actually i always scrolled down before the 2nd replay at the other angle. tbh from that side it looked the "tap" was his hand moving from the impact on the mat....
  23. Old_Bald_and_Irish Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 06:20

    Kudos to "kangerpang". That was a good one! I agree with "Monstrosity" that the second vid looks like a movment from impact. But I can't be sure. There are fuckers in competition who do this "baby tap" where it's a light tap with little motion. You feel it. Start to release a hold 'cause you think they're tapping, and then they pop out of it and start fighting. Of course, denying that they ever tapped. I'm not saying that's what happened here, but I find it curious that when the armbar locked on, his hand went straight to the dudes knee. That's not where I woulda stuck my left hand to inteligently escape the armbar.
  24. Momoplata Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 06:31

    let him break it next time maybe he'll feel better about his loss that was a tight armbar if i've seen it...thats what happens to lazy wrestlers who think its ok to sit in someone guard joe warren can cry me a river...whats it his 3rd fight?
  25. Clyde Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 06:42

    Could be a tap, might not be. Absolutely the right thing to stop the fight either way. And claiming that he wasn't in trouble is just taking the piss. If there is a picture next to word "Trouble" in the dictionary, it's an arrow pointing to Joe Warren as he hits the floor with the caption "This guy, is in trouble"
  26. MGalactic Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 07:19

    He tapped.
  27. Angelton Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 08:19

    3 words: Intelligently defending yourself Laying there waiting for your arm to get broken isn't doing that. Good call on the ref's part.
  28. Sakuraba 3900 Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 08:19

    Warren tapped hes just being a lil girl about it... it reminds me of a Chris Brennan fight that was on one of the Pride Bushido shows I cant remember who he fought for the life of me but that other asshole yelled but didnt tap, the dude then contested saying that he didnt tap. They restarted the match much to Brennans disapproval but in the end Chris just snatched that arm up again. Maybe thats what needed to happen. Restart and let Bibs take that arm home and put it on his mantel.
  29. Sakuraba 3900 Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 08:24

    Eiji Mitsuoka Thats his name, apparently homeboys fought a few times and beat some tough guys in the process. Oh well it was still a bitch ass move.
  30. HeavyHandedHawaiian Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 08:50

    Joe Warren needs to thank the referee for saving "Lefty" cuz it was well on it's way to snapping. Also, EDoggFunkMonk, Sonnen didn't tap but he did scream like a horror movie whore! He always pulls that shit to try to get his opponent to loosen the submission. See also, Babalu vs. Sonnen. Pure douchery, IMO.
  31. just some dong Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 09:38

    Dude was fucked. Clearly. He lost.
  32. mikerip Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 11:08

    That armbar was as deep as they get. He clearly tapped. What is the discussion about here?
  33. Clue-by-Four Says:

    Wed, 10/07/09 - 11:56

    Yes, he bitch-tapped. He should be thankful the ref saw it because if he didn't stop the fight then, Fernandes would have Warren's arm mounted and hung over his fireplace by now.
  34. Ascerendant Says:

    Thu, 10/08/09 - 03:26

    Maybe he should simply avoid all "could-be-construed-as-tapping"-motions while in an armbar. But then again, he's only a professional MMA fighter and asking for that kind of control over his body could simply be too much.
  35. PhenomJon Says:

    Thu, 10/08/09 - 05:34

    Looks like a tap to me.
  36. sevenmoredays Says:

    Thu, 10/08/09 - 05:44

    Sorry - I see a definite tap. Not the hand on the knee before he goes down, but when he's on the mat. Should the ref stop an armbar? No - anyone who's been in one, especially in the face down position that Warren is, knows it's over.
  37. Chalito Says:

    Thu, 10/08/09 - 05:59

    If the ref didn't stop it Bibiano would have torn that arm off and took it back to Brazil. I think warren tapped out of instinct but didn't really want to. It seems like the tap was more of a knee jerk reaction.
  38. rM Says:

    Thu, 10/08/09 - 06:24

    It is small but it is there. Reminds me of when Amir subbed CB and stood up like he didn't tap and was surprised that the ref jumped in...
  39. roachtbp Says:

    Thu, 10/08/09 - 06:49

    Warren needs to quit crying - he clearly got caught in an armbar. I seriously want to know how he thinks he could have gotten out of that - he is flattened on his stomach and his arm is totally outstretched. Good call by the ref
  40. superflat Says:

    Thu, 10/08/09 - 08:37

    Here's the problem -- while it's the ref's job to stop the fight in response to a tap, it's reasonable, if a fighter KNOWS he's about to choke a guy out or snap his arm (you can feel that), and he feels a tap, and the ref is checking things out, for the submission fighter to release his sub before doing real damage. This is why Bibiano was so pissed -- he had just won, in a gentleman's sense -- that was obvious. The whole point is that it's not a "to the death" sort of competition. So, for Warren to complain after Bibiano was essentially being merciful/sportsmanlike is an insult. Fine, a broken arm isn't the end of the world, but this is a sport, and it's totally unnecessary.
  41. NateGetsIrate Says:

    Thu, 10/08/09 - 01:14

    Wasn't it Helio who said that "tapping is for pussies"? Sometimes you gotta man up, especially when it's just an arm.
  42. MMAHORRORDUDE666 Says:

    Fri, 10/09/09 - 07:05

    No doubt this guy tapped out. Why is this even in question? What was his excuse? He was patting the guys leg over and over because he was bored? Give me a break! He quit!
  43. BallPtPenTheif Says:

    Sat, 10/10/09 - 08:07

    Tap or no tap, the shit was in and despite what Warren thinks, he was not in a sweet spot for a counter.
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