UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar was a guest on TapouT radio with Mike Straka to give an update on his injury, but Straka asked him about something that went unreported up until now. Apparently, Frankie's cornerman Mark Henry was yelling for the towel to be tossed in while Gray Maynard was brutalizing Edgar in the first round of their title fight at UFC 125 in January. Edgar's response to the line of questioning was a bit surprising:
MS: Watching the fight, I don’t know if you know this, but watching the fight, your second fight with Gray on January 1 this year, on UFC.com when you have the multiple angles and multiple audio feeds, did you know that Mark Henry was calling to throw in the towel?
FE: Yeah, I think that he was just getting a little overwhelmed, a little excited. You know, out of everybody else in my corner, no one felt that it was the issue. I don’t think anyone else was callin' for that. I think Mark, he just puts so much into us and he’s so passionate that it kinda got a hold of him for that one round.
MS: When you hear that though, you know he’s coming from a place of really, a big heart and he loves you like a little brother, but if that had happened...you would have kicked his ass, wouldn’t you?
FE: I would have. I told him afterwards when I heard he was calling for the towel, which I don’t think you can throw the towel in in the UFC, which is a good thing. But I told him, "Dude, don’t you ever, ever throw the towel in".
Two things jump out at me there - one is that a cornerman would actually want to toss in the towel. That's a bit surprising nowadays. I'm not saying it's a bad thing at all, just surprising. The other is that Edgar saying at the end that you can't throw the towel in anyway in the UFC. That was news to me, so I looked it up.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission (UFC 125 took place in Nevada) has a copy of the Unified Rules on their website, and "Throwing in the towel during competition" is listed as the last of 31 fouls. Fouls can either lead to a loss of a point, or a disqualification. However, the Association of Boxing Commissions apparently struck down that particular foul in 2009. Here's their statement.
REMOVED AS A FOUL- Throwing in the towel during competition
A fighter's corner, at the Commission's discretion, should have the option to retire his fighter in the quickest and most efficient manner possible, during competition. A corner person having worked alongside a fighter may recognize and accept what their fighter's capabilities are from past experience. It makes sense from a safety perspective to allow a corner to retire the fighter. If there is consideration that debris in the form of a towel entering the ring or cage may contribute to a disruption or confusion in the contest, then colored towels or special towels might be a consideration to be used.
Whether these rule changes have been adopted in Nevada, or are being followed in fights under the Zuffa banner is unclear (at least to me) right now. If the towel had been thrown in at UFC 125, what would have happened? A 10-7 round? A disqualification? Is it a legitimate means to end a fight?
The full audio of the interview is available after the jump.