Nearly everyone was critical of Anthony Smith’s corner when they opted not to throw in the towel during his recent UFC Fight Night headlining bout with Glover Teixeira.
Smith had taken some brutal shots throughout the fight. By the fourth round, he was staggered and visibly wobbling around the cage. He took a lot of heavy punishment in that round with a couple of his teeth falling out. The referee didn’t stop the fight and neither did his corner.
He managed to survive, but was obviously out of the fight.
Even between the fourth and fifth rounds, however, his corner never uttered a word about stopping the bout.
Smith went back out, but was quickly returned to the canvas and mounted. Teixiera dropped punch after punch until the referee finally called a halt to the fight 1:04 into the fifth frame.
UFC commentator and fighter Daniel Cormier couldn’t believe that Smith’s corner didn’t stop the fight. UFC president Dana White later said the same, that his corner should have thrown in the towel, as did numerous other critics.
But during an interview with ESPN‘s Ariel Helwani, Smith explained the situation, saying that his cornermen do not have the option to stop the fight as far as he is concerned. He has made it clear to them that if they stop the fight, they are no longer welcome to work with him. He has taken the option away. It was not their choice.
“I took that option away a long time ago,” said Smith. “If you want to sit in my corner, that’s my rule. You don’t stop the fight. Leave it in my hands. Don’t take it out of my hands. So I’ve told them before, if you stop the fight, if you throw the towel in, you can go ahead and walk back to the locker room by yourself because I’ll never stand by you again. I don’t need liabilities in my corner.
“The way that I fight, I end up in s—ty spots sometimes, and that’s just how it goes. Most of the time, I’ve been able to come back and win. And sometimes, you can’t. Sometimes you just run out of time, and sometimes it’s just too high of a hill to climb. But I don’t need those liabilities, I don’t need to be getting to bad spots, working my ass off to try to get to a better position, and constantly have in the back of my head worried that my corner’s gonna step in and not give me the opportunity. Whether they did or they didn’t it, didn’t matter. That’s the rule.”
That’s not to say that Smith felt the fight shouldn’t have been stopped. Every fighter wants every chance to win the bout, but Smith didn’t blame referee Jason Herzog for calling a halt to it. After all, determining when it’s time to save a fighter from himself is the job that referees and ringside doctors are charged with.
“We don’t stop fights, that’s it. There’s a lot of people that’s on and that is the referee and the doctor. There’s a reason those people have a job. That’s their job. If he thought that it needed to be stopped, then that’s on him. If the doctor thinks that I can’t continue, then that’s on him. That’s his job, that’s what he went to school for, that’s what he’s being paid for,” Smith continued.
“I’m paying (my corner) to help me win fights. I don’t need them constantly in the back of their head worrying about how much damage I’m taking. That’s not their job. They are paid to help me win fights, that’s it.”
Smith reportedly suffered a broken nose, broken orbital bone, two missing teeth, and a cut under his right eye during the fight with Teixeira.
UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Teixeira was the second of a three-event stint over the course of eight days as the UFC got back to work in Jacksonville, Fla. The fight promotion hopes to begin holding domestic events at its headquarters in Las Vegas beginning with UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns on May 30 at the Apex.
UFC on ESPN+ 29 Highlights: Should Smith vs Teixeira have been stopped sooner?
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