Through 41 fights and 12 years of fighting, the 38-year-old Cuban had never been finished. It was the biggest win of Magny’s career, but it was overshadowed by the amount of damage Lombard endured before the referee intervened.
Lombard dominated the opening round, knocking Magny down early and relentlessly pursued a stoppage. Magny defended and did just enough to survive the round, but was on the verge of defeat.
In the second frame, the complexion of the fight changed on a dime. Magny began landing punches and Lombard suddenly looked exhausted. The fight went to the ground and Magny had his way. He had Lombard back mounted, flattened out, and was continually battering him with punches. At one point, Magny stopped punching and looked up at referee, Steve Perceval, questioning why the fight was continuing.
“As much as we’re in this sport to win, it’s hard as individuals to sit there and put that kind of damage on a guy and not have a stoppage. The referee is there to protect the fighter. [Lombard] wasn’t in a position to protect himself at all. The ref should have stepped in there earlier I thought,” said Magny during the event’s post-fight press conference.
“I think Neil said it best. The referee’s job is to make sure that the fight is stopped if the athlete can’t protect himself or herself. I’m sitting right beside… not quite as close as the referee was, but I think that fight should have been stopped, and it should have been stopped a long time before,” said the UFC executive.
Wright admitted that the organization was “a lot concerned” about the damage Lombard was absorbing.
While the referee’s job is to enforce the rules, ensure a level playing field, and protect the athletes, a fighter’s corner can also stop a fight by throwing in the towel. If referee Perceval allowed the fight to go on minutes longer than it should have, so did Lombard’s corner.