It took just 66 seconds for women’s bantamweight champion and Olympic medalist, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, to finish fellow Olympian Sara McMann inside the octagon last night at UFC 170.
Rousey remains the undisputed champion and is undefeated in her MMA career at 9-0, while McMann, who came into the fight with a perfect record of her own, suffered her first defeat.
The fight was furious, but it was also fast – some think too fast.
After exchanging haymakers in the center of the octagon, the fight moved to the fence where Rousey pinned McMann while throwing vicious elbows and knees. At the 66-second mark of the very first round, Rousey drove one of those knees into the challenger’s liver, sending her to the canvas; and referee, Herb Dean, stepped in to stop the fight, giving Rousey the TKO victory.
Herb Dean, one of the most respected referees in MMA, was on top of the action and stopped the fight when McMann hit the canvas and turned her head away from Rousey in agonizing pain. As he did however, the challenger was regaining her feet.
It all happened in a flash, as many of the most exciting moments in MMA do, leaving fans to speculate the validity of the stoppage.
During the slow-motion replay of the final seconds of the contest, Joe Rogan, long-time UFC commentator initially said, “It might have been a bit premature, but you’ve got to give her (McMann) a chance.” He continued while watching a different angle to say, “Herb Dean had a better look at it than us… you know, dropping like that and not defending yourself is not a good sign.”
Controversial decisions are an all-too-frequent reality in fight sports; but UFC President, Dana White, cannot be happy after witnessing back to back main event stoppages in his company’s last two pay per views.
At UFC 169, the preceding major show for the world’s premiere MMA promotion, fan favorite Urijah Faber took on bantamweight champion Renan Barao in a long-awaited rematch for the 145lb belt. Coming into the bout, Faber was cruising on a 4-fight win streak inside the octagon and was also a contender for fighter of the year honors for 2013. He took the fight on short notice when Barao’s scheduled opponent and former champion, Dominick Cruz, suffered a groin injury. This was Faber’s third shot at a UFC title and it looked as if the stars were finally aligning for “The California Kid” to bring home the strap.
Instead, Faber suffered a TKO loss in the first round when Herb Dean, who refereed that fight as well, prematurely stopped the fight, not realizing that Faber was giving him a thumbs-up while turtling under a storm of strikes from Barao. To his credit, Faber was humble in defeat, and even patted Dean on the back during the official decision announcement, a true veteran of the sport who understands the challenges referees face making split-second decisions inside the cage. That’s why, although Herb Dean has been at the center of these controversies, he still remains one of the most trusted and respected referees out there.
It makes sense that fans can feel shortchanged when a marquee fight ends questionably, especially when they pay a $45 price tag to watch the event. To appease fussy viewers, the UFC has gone to great lengths to bring free fights to viewers via their deal with Fox who hosts events in primetime and on Fox Sports 1. So while controversy over fight decisions can hurt the brand and the sport, the UFC continues to be the promotion to watch in MMA, the fastest growing sport in the world.
By Matt Stinson