A bout between Kim Couture and Sheila Bird at AX Combat 1 on July 8 at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was recently under the microscope. Or rather, a questionable stoppage by referee Len Koivisto was under the microscope.
The stoppage in questions wasn’t for a fight that many felt was too quick, but for what many characterized as outrageously slow.
After the fight hit the mat in the opening round, Bird locked on a leg-scissors choke on her opponent. After a few moments, Couture’s legs and arms went limp, an obvious sign that she had been choked out. Several seconds passed after Couture fell limp before Koivisto checked on her and stopped the bout.
Couture remained down on the canvas for a few moments after the choke was released, but she was revived and stood up to wave to the crowd in Canada.
Many at the fight were calling for Koivisto’s head, but Couture wasn’t among them.
“I’m fine,” Couture told MMAWeekly.com the following day. “I woke up and I thought the fight was still going on. Once I realized what was happening, I stood up and waved to the crowd, but I’m fine.”
The Calgary Combative Sports Commission did conduct a formal review of the stoppage, ultimately rendering a decision in support of Koivisto.
“As standard practice, debriefing meetings are always held amongst commission members and officials following any supervised combative sports event held in Calgary,” read a statement from the Calgary commission on Thursday. “The committee discussed the call made by the official for the Couture vs. Bird bout. It was determined that a formal review would be conducted of the circumstances surrounding that call.
“After an in-depth investigation, the Calgary Combative Sports Commission members rendered a decision to support the official, Mr. Len Koivisto. No further action or investigations into the officiating of Mr. Koivisto will be required by the Commission.
“Mr. Koivisto has been involved in the combative sports industry for close to 40 years, the last 23 in various officiating capacities. He is a well respected boxing referee (nationally and internationally) and has officiated MMA (nationally) for several years in various jurisdictions in close to 400 matches without incident. He has always taken his ring official’s duties very seriously and conducts himself with a great deal of professionalism.”
You can watch the stoppage in question in the video below…