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

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.