Unlike in boxing, corner stoppages are less common in MMA. On some level, it is even considered to be either a taboo or a mortal sin for a coach to not allow their fighter to go out on their shield.
For veteran referee Marc Goddard, it could be culturally rooted. As he explained to Ariel Helwani in a recent appearance on The MMA Hour:
“It’s definitely in MMA culture,” he said. “And I’m gonna go back to that common thread again about us being a young sport. Things are still being figured out. Things are still being learned.
“And yes, you will see it far more regularly in boxing because coaches seem – I’m not saying that MMA coaches are any less persuasive or demand any less from their fighters. Of course, they love and care for them just the same. But it’s a definite culture thing.”
Goddard further explained his point, saying there is a certain aesthetic value that fans of the sport give great importance to.
“There’s a certain visual aesthetic when it comes to MMA, too. Because by and large, the vast majority, 99.9% of fights in MMA are finished on the ground, i.e. the person is being knocked out and is lying on the ground, or has been taken down, TKOd, or submitted on the ground,” Goddard said.
“There’s a visual aesthetic there, as well, but people are just not used to seeing fighters being stopped on their feet.”
So what exactly should cornermen be looking at and how can they make the right judgment on when to stop a fight? Goddard provided some insight, based on a referee’s point-of-view.
“There’s a marker in a fight: two fighters come out, the fight begins competitive,” he explained. “The tide starts to turn, one fighter may start edging ahead and getting the upper hand. One fighter gets forced into being defensive. The onslaught continues, and the momentum builds, that defensive position then turns into survival.
“That’s the switch. That’s the aesthetic switch that a referee should be looking for, for them to step in and call a halt to the fight. And you can actually say the exact same for MMA corners and MMA coaches.”
For now, corner stoppages in MMA will still happen rarer compared to boxing. But Goddard says that will all eventually change as the sport evolves.
“I think time will take care of that. And of course, greater awareness and education, not just for officials, but for coaches, too.”