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The Only Rule You’ll Ever Need to Determine Whether a Fight Was Stopped Too Early

(Props: Smoogy on the UG)

Josh Koscheck’s TKO loss has been the subject of a lot of debate on the old internets for the past couple of days.  Some people think the stoppage was too fast, not giving Koscheck the chance to recover and defend himself.  One of those people, obviously, is Koscheck himself (side note: man, give that camera man credit for going into a tense locker room, hearing that rant, and then having the balls to ask, very simply, “Do you think he should have stopped it?”), but the fact is he’s wrong, and so is everyone arguing his side in this case.

Here’s how you know your fight was stopped early: you can immediately look into the ref’s face as he moves in to stop the bout and say, ‘What the fuck is your problem?’  If you can do that, preferably without slurring or attempting to rise and then falling back down, then you have a legitimate gripe.  I like to call this the ‘What the fuck is your problem?’ rule.  

If you can’t say ‘What the fuck is your problem?’ (other acceptable variations include: ‘What the fuck are you doing?’, ‘That’s fucking bullshit!’, and ‘Mazzagatti, you asshole!’) immediately after the stoppage, then the ref had reason enough to stop the fight.  

That’s not to say that the fighter in question – in this case, Koscheck – couldn’t have continued or even come back and won the fight.  Maybe he could have.  But look at him up there.  As the ref moves in to stop the fight do you see anything in Koscheck’s face that indicates he is even capable of a ‘What the fuck is your problem?’ response at that moment?

And that’s important because the referee’s job in this scenario is to look at the hurt fighter and make a decision.  Some guys have good enough training that their bodies can continue to fight on auto-pilot even if their brains can’t muster a ‘What the fuck is your problem?’ response.  Some guys can’t. 

The ref can’t be expected to distinguish between the two.  He has to look at Koscheck’s eyes swimming around his head and decide whether to stop it.

As a contrast, consider the stoppage in the James Thompson-Kimbo Slice fight.  Thompson was capable of not only complaining immediately, but also shoving the ref.  Now that’s a fight that’s been stopped too soon.  However, shoving the ref is not to be confused with attempting a single-leg takedown on the ref, which is a universal sign that the stoppage was justified, as is asking no one in particular, ‘Is it over?’

At the end of the day, Koscheck has himself to blame for the loss.  Whether he thinks it’s an early stoppage or not, he placed himself in such a position as to force the ref to make the call.  As anyone who’s seen an MMA event already knows, no two refs have the same definition of “intelligent defense.”  If you don’t want to risk it, don’t dive into an uppercut and get your eyes knocked back into your skull.

That’s easier said than done, I realize, but it’s either that or else work on perfecting your ‘What the fuck is your problem?’ response.  It won’t change a loss to a win in the record books, but at least you’ll have a case when you go to complain about it later.  For what that’s worth.


Cagepotato Comments

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jamesmedley- September 30, 2011 at 4:15 am
Let's say the ref didn’t stop it and Kos retrieved a couple of second later enough to outlive the round? He'd have felt pretty stupid just for quitting
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schizo310- March 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm
To me that didn't look like "I'm alert and ready to pull guard". That looked like "Oh fuck!!! There's three of them!! Please don't hit me again!!!" I think any human in that state, when approached by the person who put them in that state, would roll onto their back and put up their limbs to protect themselves. Fuck... every animal on earth does that.
Recklessp1- February 25, 2009 at 6:54 pm
Early stop. What happened to true mma fans. It's not the first to get a good lick in, it's who ever wins wins. Early stops are far to common now.
Blaphtome- February 25, 2009 at 9:38 am
Kos sucks and will never be a champion as long as GSP is alive. He got knocked out by a nobody, and looks like a half-breed sideshow bob. He's just a jock with no real fighting spirit. Sorry.
armfarmer- February 25, 2009 at 9:22 am
Then why didn't he try to pull the ref into his gaurd? How did he react to several different things happening in the seconds after he was dropped? He started to get up, went back down to pull gaurd, the ref got on him and he knew immediately it was over. He wasn't on autopilot.
gesus- February 25, 2009 at 9:22 am
‘Mazzagatti, you asshole!’

Blaphtome- February 25, 2009 at 8:26 am
Pulling guard don't mean $hit, watch the video of that boxer still punching while he's KTFO on the canvass. I know some people can't handle seeing the mighty Kos getting KTFO by a nobody, but he was f@cked and just needs to complain a little to save face. I've been dropped and tempted to pretend it didn't happen or wasn't that bad, but deep inside Kos is glad someone was there to save his a$$. Guarantee that's how it went down, he just hasn't figured out how to accept it yet.
Professor Lambbo- February 25, 2009 at 8:12 am

@ Tbadora,

god- February 25, 2009 at 5:29 am
great writeup, agreed kos was out, never questioned the stoppage
armfarmer- February 25, 2009 at 5:06 am
"Koscheck was most decidedly knocked out, want proof, see Paulo step right over Koschecks left leg passing to half guard. Anyone with their sense still about them would put up even a little resistence to this slow motion guard pass."

Dude get the fuck out of here that shit is retarded.
Anonymous- February 24, 2009 at 11:37 pm
Good Stoppage he was Out and he went limb and his eyes rolled , ive seen more premature stoppage in PRIDE than that and there's no BUZZ behind it so Stop whining cause you got KTFO
Howard- February 24, 2009 at 11:25 pm
Did anyone else notice that he straight pimp slapped Kos? That wasn't even a punch, it was a bitch slap. And then watch at the end, when Paulo was going back in. His hand is open again. He was going to slap the shit out of him again. Guess Kos didn't have Paulo's money.
AussieJosh- February 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm
I think the reff did the right thing, but on the other hand i do think Josh had a good 50/50 chance of defending him self on his back. And whats with Paulo's open right hand after he had grounded Josh? Looks almost as if he was going to jump on to him and bitch slap him right across the face! Now that would of really been humiliating for Josh!
B-tard- February 24, 2009 at 8:00 pm
That's in slow motion though.
Tbadora- February 24, 2009 at 7:55 pm

It's a conspiracy that will change the way you look at refs and the UFC! Allow me to explain the early stoppage:

If you watch the fight from a certain angle it becomes apparent that the ref didn't jump in to stop the fight. Go ahead, take a look.

Upon receiving the 'fatal blow' from Paulo, Koscheck's head is seen moving BACK, AND TO THE LEFT! Let me repeat- BACK!.... AND TO THE LEFT; BACK!.....AND TO THE LEFT; BACK!......AND TO THE LEFT!

At this exact point, I'd like to draw your attention to the mysterious figure of a man in the top left hand corner on screen, just as Kos get hit with the fatal blow. There, ladies and gentleman-like ladies, sits the individual who is responsible for the confusion leading up to the controversial stoppage. Upon witnessing the punch, he is seen jumping up, flailing his hands like a prom date who has just been taken advantage of. His sole purpose is to give the ref a signal of when and if there is any evidence of greasing abuse! Ah YES! You see, after the well documented greasing cold war involving the two great superpowers of the UFC, ended. The UFC was in such dire turmoil that it decided to create a private, ultra-secret, gestapo-like agency that would take care of any potential sabotage to the integrity of it's organization. The UFC commissioned an elite, group of secret police, who's sole purpose is to intervene when there is any sign of dishonest combat! In certain situations, their job is to signal to the ref, when any suspicious activity is noted. This is what you see here.

What you actually see (but don't realize) is that just as Koscheck falls back on the mat, some glob of grease smears on the mat from his backside!!!!! The signal is then given, and this is when the ref comes charging in to get a better look at the smear on the mat! At this point, Paulo assumes that the referee made the stoppage due to the potential KO, and the fight ends.

That, ladies and gentleman-like ladies, is what ACTUALLY occurred that night in London. Rumor has it that there is a smoking gun footage of this floating around, filmed by some guy name Zapruder. Of course, the UFC doesn't want you to know about this because it will blow the secret of the UFC Gestapo police.
lost in ok- February 24, 2009 at 7:22 pm
Koscheck was most decidedly knocked out, want proof, see Paulo step right over Koschecks left leg passing to half guard. Anyone with their sense still about them would put up even a little resistence to this slow motion guard pass. Koscheck is one of the biggest jerks in MMA, but he is talented, and anyone with talent could have put up resistence to Paulo walking over his leg, as long as they hadn't just eaten a huge uppercut and been knocked unconcious.
Anonymous- February 24, 2009 at 7:13 pm
TPark- February 24, 2009 at 6:34 pm
‘What the fuck are you doing?’, ‘That’s fucking bullshit!’, and ‘Mazzagatti, you asshole!’) immediately after the stoppage, then the ref had reason enough to stop the fight

Hahaha once again CP causes me to laugh.
ovrbomb- February 24, 2009 at 3:38 pm
man....i fuckin hate kos...but to be fair...he did plant his hands and begin to lift himself up...saw paulo coming and prepairs to pull gaurd....but...i also saw his blonde little afro get fucking ROCKED! so...fuck him either way....i aint lossing sleep over it.

smashin n bashin- February 24, 2009 at 3:38 pm
great article!
armfarmer- February 24, 2009 at 3:35 pm
Yes, but their flapping doesn't change in response to what's going on around them...
MP- February 24, 2009 at 3:25 pm
Cagepotato, I love you man. You know what the fuck is up
Hammersquash- February 24, 2009 at 3:25 pm
And chickens flap their wings for a bit after you cut their heads off.

armfarmer- February 24, 2009 at 2:39 pm
Also.. if he's out and on auto pilot and it's just his body trying to keep fighting (like many of you suggest) then why didn't he pull a kimbo and start grappling with the ref? He starts to sit up, looks at Paulo closing in, decides to go back down and defend from his back.. then the ref jumps in and he immediately just turns to his side and starts to stand up because he knows the ref just stopped the fight. If he were "on autopilot" he wouldn't have been able to react to each situation correctly, he would have been trying to pull the ref into his gaurd not just stop and get up.
armfarmer- February 24, 2009 at 2:33 pm
I think the gif is extremely bias to those arguing it was a good stoppage. I'd like to see a gif of the entire thing, not one that zooms in and shows a dazed look in his eyes in slow motion for 3 seconds as he's turning to get to his feet and then cuts off. If it's 3 seconds in slow motion it's probably 1 second realtime. He's rolling to his left to get up that's why he's lookin in that direction.. he does look dazed but being dazed doesn't warrant the fight being immediately stopped. I don't think it would look nearly as bad as it does here if you showed the entire clip.