Referee Steve Perceval came under fire last night after he let Hector Lombard fight on until the third round despite having taken repeated, unanswered ground and pound blows to the head courtesy of Neil Magny last night in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 85 in Brisbane, Australia.
Some fans even questioned whether the fight should have been stopped in the first round when Magny came under sustained fire from Lombard on the mat, but on that occasion it was clear that Magny was doing his best to defend himself and improve his position.
However, late in the second round Magny took Lombard’s back, flattened him out and drilled him with left and right hands for what seemed like an eternity. Lombard was essentially trapped and not making any attempt to move, just covering his head with his hands as best he could.
Magny even looked at Perceval at one stage in disbelief as he hammered away, but the ref opted to let Lombard continue to the third round where Magny was easily able to take him down again and continued to land more ground and pound, which finally convinced Perceval to call the TKO finish.
Afterwards, Magny told reporters that he was surprised that the referee hadn’t stepped in earlier to protect Lombard.
“As much as we’re in this sport to win or whatever, it’s hard to sit there and put that kind of damage on a guy and not have it stopped,” Magny stated at the post-fight presser. “The ref is in there to protect the fighter, and he wasn’t in a position to protect himself at all. The ref should have stepped in earlier, I thought, but that’s not my job. I guess I just keep fighting.”
Tom Wright, UFC Managing Director in Canada, Australia and New Zealand was in complete agreement.
“We were a lot concerned,” Wright said. “I think Neil said it best: The referee’s job is to make sure a fight is stopped if the athlete can’t protect himself or herself. I’m sitting not quite as close as the referee was, but I thought that fight should’ve been stopped and it should’ve been stopped a long time before.”
Check out footage from the fight and more opinions on the matter from Brian Stann and Dan Hardy below.