There was some controversy at UFC On ESPN+ 1 last weekend as to whether the superfight between Henry Cejudo and TJ Dillashaw was stopped too early by referee Kevin MacDonald.
One man who does think it was stopped prematurely is veteran official ‘Big’ John McCarthy.
“When you say ‘good stoppage/bad stoppage,’ I’m not into saying what’s good or bad,” McCarthy told MMAfighting.com. “Kevin made a decision, okay. It’s his decision. He’s the one that’s gotta live with his decision — along with TJ and the UFC themselves.
“If you’re gonna ask me – there’s things I want a referee to think about – if you’re gonna ask me, ‘Would I have stopped it at that point?’ No. I wouldn’t have stopped it at that point. And this is the reason why: this is not a fight between two guys that are just brought together and ‘Oh, we’re gonna match this fight up,’ whatever fight it is. It’s not, as I would say, ‘Fighter A’ against ‘Fighter B.’ This is a fight where both guys have earned, they’ve earned the right to actually be in this position. They’ve both created a background that’s put them in a position of being champions, and now these are champions going after each other. One to actually try and save his entire weight-class, basically. The other to prove, ‘Those guys are not as good as me.’
“And you look at what happened, that fight is a young fight. It’s 25 seconds in when Henry hits TJ with a shot. It hurts him, no doubt about it. Puts him down. But there’s no time… When you’re a referee you’ve got to understand certain things. And what you’ve gotta understand is, ‘I’ve got two guys that are champions, not all fights are the same.’ And you’re gonna hear a lot of referees say, ‘You ref every fight the same.’ And I’m gonna tell you that that’s a referee that has no clue what they’re doing, okay? You got two guys that are champions, they both have a full tank of gas. There’s no better time… You know one thing: TJ Dillashaw is in great condition. Now I’m not saying he didn’t lose a lot of weight, and that may have a factor in this fight. But, he’s in the best condition he can be in, with receiving as little damage as he can receive. He hasn’t had anything happen in there other than the shot that puts him down. This is his greatest opportunity to recover. Henry goes and swarms him, and so you gotta watch it and make sure, ‘If he goes out, I’m gonna stop the fight.’ Henry goes and hits him; three clubbing things, kinda hits him with the forearm a little bit. And TJ, you see he’s got the leg. He’s trying to collect himself, and you’ve got to give him that opportunity. Because again, he’s got a full tank of gas. He hasn’t received damage over a couple of rounds; it isn’t that he’s exhausted.
“Those are elements that you bring in as to whether you’re going to stop a fight or not. In that position, you want to try to give those guys as much as you can give them. You give the fans as much as they can give them. You give the promotion as much as you can give them, without getting somebody seriously hurt. And at that point, although TJ had accepted damage, he wasn’t seriuously hurt — in my opinion. At the stoppage of that fight, he still had a moment. It could have been that three seconds later he was out, okay? And that’s decisive and that’s what is best for those fighters, it’s best for the promotion, it’s best for the fans. So, in that circumstance, I would have let it go a little bit longer. But, you know, I could have been wrong in that too.”