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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.

Cagepotato Comments

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BallPtPenTheif- October 10, 2009 at 8:07 am
Tap or no tap, the shit was in and despite what Warren thinks, he was not in a sweet spot for a counter.
MMAHORRORDUDE666- October 9, 2009 at 7:05 am
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!
NateGetsIrate- October 8, 2009 at 1:14 pm
Wasn't it Helio who said that "tapping is for pussies"? Sometimes you gotta man up, especially when it's just an arm.
superflat- October 8, 2009 at 8:37 am
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.
roachtbp- October 8, 2009 at 6:49 am
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
rM- October 8, 2009 at 6:24 am
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...
Chalito- October 8, 2009 at 5:59 am
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.
sevenmoredays- October 8, 2009 at 5:44 am
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.
PhenomJon- October 8, 2009 at 5:34 am
Looks like a tap to me.
Ascerendant- October 8, 2009 at 3:26 am
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.
Clue-by-Four- October 7, 2009 at 11:56 pm
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.
mikerip- October 7, 2009 at 11:08 pm
That armbar was as deep as they get. He clearly tapped. What is the discussion about here?
just some dong- October 7, 2009 at 9:38 pm
Dude was fucked. Clearly. He lost.
HeavyHandedHawaiian- October 7, 2009 at 8:50 pm
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.
Sakuraba 3900- October 7, 2009 at 8:24 pm
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.
Sakuraba 3900- October 7, 2009 at 8:19 pm
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.
Angelton- October 7, 2009 at 8:19 pm
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.
MGalactic- October 7, 2009 at 7:19 pm
He tapped.
Clyde- October 7, 2009 at 6:42 pm
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"
Momoplata- October 7, 2009 at 6:31 pm
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?
Old_Bald_and_Irish- October 7, 2009 at 6:20 pm
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.
Monstrosity- October 7, 2009 at 6:06 pm
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....
Monstrosity- October 7, 2009 at 6:03 pm
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.
King_KP- October 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm
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...
One Two- October 7, 2009 at 4:29 pm
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.