I don't need to tell anyone reading this that MMA is a violent sport. In violent sports, people will get hurt (hell, it even happens in nonviolent ones too). In any contact sport, keeping athletes safe is paramount. Injuries will happen, but it is extremely necessary to take precautions to keep the competitors healthy and in the cage, on the field, or wherever their particular sport is contested.
Those of you that fall the National Football League know that they are in the midst of a number of lawsuits due to major problems in regards to concussions. Ex NFL players have shown a shockingly high suicide rate, and new data available shows that many of these guys had suffered head trauma that eventually destroyed their ability to function.
I know there are quite a few crossover MMA fans that follow pro wrestling, and they have had a lot of the same problems. I'm sure a lot of you remember the tragic events surrounding the end of Chris Benoit's life, where he killed his wife and son, before taking his own life. Immediately the media jumped on the story of roid rage, though the scan of Benoit's brain showed that their assumption was far from the whole story, and might be completely wrong. I am NOT trying to defend what Chris Benoit did here, at all. But to say that there were not other extenuating circumstances would also be inaccurate.
From Wikipedia's page on the murder-suicide:
Tests were conducted on Benoit's brain by Julian Bailes, the head of neurosurgery at West Virginia University, and results showed that "Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient." Tests conducted on Benoit's brain tissue revealed he did in fact suffer from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and had brain damage in all four lobes of the brain and brain stem. Bailes and his colleagues concluded that repeated concussions can lead to dementia, which can contribute to severe behavioral problems.
Now, you might be asking, what does any of this have to do with MMA? If you watched Bellator 78 last night, you already know the answer. Everyone watching was treated to a sickening display of watching a clearly unconscious Marius Zaromskis get blasted 10 times in the face while referee JERRY POE stood in perfect position and watched. I do not fault Andrey Koreshkov for continuing his attack until stopped by the official. That is his job. Jerry Poe's was to keep both fighters safe in the cage. He failed miserably in that regard. If you think I might be exaggerating, see it for yourself:
Seriously, what the hell is Jerry Poe doing? He made sure to get just the right angle to watch, but he wasn't in any hurry to put a stop to it. My eight year old nephew could have made a better stoppage, and he has never been in a fight in his life. The highlight of Poe's effort here has to be his diving tackle at the end. He dives onto Koreshkov like he is making a quick heroic save, literally an instant after allowing the onslaught to occur.
If this was the first time it had happened, this article would be about the negligence of one official that made an atrocious mistake. But this isn't even the first time we have seen this in Bellator. Fans still cringe at the thought of the merciless slaughter of Joe Warren at the hands of Pat Curran. In case you somehow forgot, here you go.
*All gifs done by the sorcerer known only as Zombie Prophet
In this case, the official doing his best to see 5 years beaten off the back end of Joe Warren's life was JEFF MALOTT. Everyone in their right mind said that the stoppage was embarrassingly late, except the people that have the authority to do something about it. From MMA Junkie:
Commission director Andy Means declined to comment on the performance of Jeff Malott, who as referee waved the bout off at the 1:25 mark of the third round after Warren slumped to the canvas.
As usual, the athletic commissions have nothing bad to say about any official, ever. Was Malott fired for this incident? Of course not. On September 6, he refereed 8 fights on the HFC 11 card in Indiana, under the same commission that presided over the Warren/Curran debacle.
Other sports have laid out the evidence with regards to the dangers of massive head trauma. If MMA wants to continue to grow and thrive, then it needs to learn from the lessons of others. Precautionary steps need to be put in place BEFORE permanent damage is done to fighters, and this means getting rid of officials that don't know when to stop a fight. The commissions hold all the power in this regard, and they have nothing to say. I'm afraid that just like the NFL and pro wrestling, MMA is going to wait too long to give serious thought to fighter safety, and it will suffer serious tragedy as a result.
The good news is it is not too late. MMA has data on brain injuries that older sports didn't, and their mistakes don't have to be repeated. To all athletic commissions: Think about Chris Benoit. Think about Junior Seau. I beg of you, do what is needed to save the fighters of MMA from a similar fate. Guys will inevitably get hurt and damaged, but incompetent officials can get a fighter killed. You, and only you, can prevent that.
Hit up the comments if you have anything to say.