For those that watched Bellator 96, I'm curious if anyone disagreed with referee Kerry Hatley's stoppage in the Sobral v Noe fight.
For those that didn't watch, there are gifs up in the results thread that are worth watching, but essentially, by the late half of the third round, Renato was eating shots that were clearly wobbling him, but like any stubborn Brazilian, he refused to fall down. Fabio Maldonado comes to recent mind. Rather than let Sobral continue to receive head trauma ala the aforementioned Fabio Maldonado (in the Teixeira fight, for those that don't recall), however, referee Kerry Hatley declared a TKO victory for Noe while Sobral was still on his feet.
I thought the stoppage of a fight while the losing fighter was still on his feet was a courageous decision by Kerry Hatley and obviously agree with his choice; Sobral was offering little to no defense and was purely in survival mode, trying to make it to the final bell without actually going out. One could argue that Sobral should have been given that chance...he was clearly still awake enough to remain on his feet, was checking the clock and attempting to avoid the strikes by running away, even offering up some token offense of his own. He even showed his characteristic distaste for rules and referees by shoving Hatley after stopping the fight. Taken out of context, those seem like credible arguments that the losing fighter was not technically knocked out.
Where I care to differ is in considering Babalu's age, his long career, and the fact that he has taken some serious blows to the head in that career, notably KOs at the hands of one Chuck Liddell, who in his heyday hit like a truck, and Dan Henderson, proprietor of the notorious "H-Bomb". In fact, all of Babalu's recent losses have come via KO or TKO. I don't know if referees make use of such information, since it is the commission's job to decide if a fighter has recovered sufficiently and is medically sound to fight, which would mean a referee should look at each fighter with a clean slate...but if I were a referee, I'd have to take a fighter's history into account when making a judgement about how well that fighter typically recovers from blows, how good their defense is against submissions, etcetera.
Maybe that is asking too much of a referee, and I am clearly extrapolating things from Hatley's call without any knowledge of what criteria he actually used in making his decision, but I've added him to my referee's to watch list in the hopes of seeing more good things from him.
As concern in our sport grows in regards to brain trauma and the long term effects, I look forward to more referees taking Hatley's stance in this fight, and stopping a fight when serious strikes to the head are not being intelligently defended against, with the emphasis on intelligently.