UFC 160 results: Questionable refereeing in Jeremy Stephens vs Estevan Payan bloodbath

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

Referee Chris Tognoni oversaw the UFC 160 facebook prelims opening bout between Jeremy Stephens and Estevan Payan, which turned into a bloody spectacle that went the distance. Did Tognoni do enough to ensure the safety of a possibly at risk fighter by not having him checked uninterrupted by a ringside doctor?

According to the American Red Cross, the average adult has approximately just 10 pints of blood in his or her body. Approximately 1 pint is the usual safe donation an adult can make at one time -- a healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days -- and approximately 3 pints of blood are required for the average red blood cell transfusion. Blood is a precious commodity in the medical world, and it is the vehicle for both our cardiovascular system and immune system. Without being patronising or exceedingly obvious, it's pretty important stuff.

So it should come as no surprise how bothered I was by the amount of blood that was allowed to be spilled during the opening UFC 160 preliminary bout between Jeremy Stephens and Estevan Payan. Don't get me wrong, MMA is a full contact combat sport, and I know it can be a bloody affair as fighters work to harm their opponent to the point of submission or incapacitation.

My constitution for visceral visual stimuli is relatively strong. I wasn't bothered by the aesthetic of the blood, but more for the lack of concern over a human being appearing to bleed out in front of thousands of people in attendance, and millions watching around the world.

While there is no major artery or vein in the forehead where a cut could mean something as severe as death within a few seconds or a couple of minutes, the amount of blood that can pour from that area is still quite surprising. In the fictional world of Pro Wrasslin', workers purposely use a concealed razor blade to create a small cut on part of their forehead to achieve 'colour', used to enhance the visual drama in the predetermined, simulated combat they were taking part in.

For Estevan Payan, it was not a razor thin cut that caused him to leak crimson all over the Octagon, but a clearly visible split caused by a well placed elbow to the head on the ground by Jeremy Stephens. It was an opening that could not be properly sealed, and the tide of blood could not be stemmed by his corner's cutman. When a doctor attempted to examine him between rounds 2 and 3, his corner appeared to do their best job of covering up the split and deflecting the doctor away, claiming their fighter was fine and there was nothing to worry about. This wouldn't be the first time a corner has looked out for a fighter's career more than their well being.

Worse still, when Stephens was dominating Payan and was in full control of his back at times during the fight, Payan's blood was almost flowing like a badly leaking tap, and yet referee Chris Tognoni did nothing but look on even when there was a break in the action and both fighters where back to standing.

According to Chris Tognoni's LinkedIn profile, he has been a professional MMA referee in the state of Nevada for nearly 12 years, and yet to my knowledge this is the first time seeing him officiate at a UFC, certainly a major Pay per View event.

We saw on occasion Payan attempting to wipe the blood from his eyes as the rounds went on, and we saw him bleed continuously for the majority of a fight, and this can be justifiably enough for a referee to call the fight there and then. If the corner can not stop the blood flowing, the referee and / or doctor should make a call. That Tognoni at no point took the opportunity to pause the fight where appropriate, take Payan to a neutral corner and have a doctor examine him free from the protest and manipulation of his corner team, is extremely concerning and something I would hope Keith Kiser and the Nevada State Athletic Commission question him about.

I'm prepared for fights to be bloody, but I don't think anyone should tolerate a fighter being allowed to haemorage when it's clear his corner are unable to stem it.


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