It's never fun to see a fight that was shaping up to be interesting stopped in anything resembling premature fashion, but it's not easy to be in Herb Dean's position tonight. After Ronda Rousey landed a knee to the body that left Sara McMann clutching at her midsection and eating clean punches to the side of her head.
Dean was moving in to stop the fight as soon as McMann went down and Rousey began throwing punches. That she started to stand up and attempt to defend as he broke up the fight made it look questionable, but it's not hard to understand why he was moving in for the stoppage. Of course, if you compare his actions now to his actions earlier in the evening, it gets a little murky.
That said, McMann and Rousey were engaging in a really compelling fight on the feet. McMann was not as outgunned standing as many thought, landing several good shots and getting Rousey to turn it into a clinch fight. From there it was just the knee and then the stoppage.
And now we debate what would have happened and what exactly makes for good refereeing.
- Pat Cummins did better than I expected against Daniel Cormier, and he lost in slightly over a minute. Which says everything you really need to know about the fight.
- Ultimately, the issue with Cormier/Cummins is that it didn't really prove anything. Cormier made the cut to 205, that is good. But he didn't face the kind of competition that says anything about him at the weight. Still, Cormier vs. Jon Jones is as good as it gets after Jones/Gustafsson 2.
- Rory MacDonald picked up a much needed win when he faced Demian Maia. Losing to Robbie Lawler could have been a confidence breaker, and losing the first round to Maia was going to test his confidence as well. He rebounded well and fought two composed rounds, even surviving a bad spot in the third to get his win. Maia isn't an easy out by any means, but Rory needs another win or two before we rekindle any sort of title contender talk.
- Mike Pyle's brutal third round drubbing of TJ Waldburger is the moment people will reference most when talking about the Rousey/McMann stoppage. Herb Dean allowed Waldburger to take way too much damage when he was already clearly finished, prompting criticism from media, fans and Joe Rogan. That he would allow such a brutal finish at one point in an event and move in prematurely in the main event shows a consistency issue that is going to leave fighters really unsure of what to expect.
- Stephen Thompson is probably more of an "attraction" than anything at this point, but he's a lot of fun to watch when he is on. Thompson has seemingly been very well protected as they've kept him away from grapplers, but that just means we get to see him do the work that is most exciting. Tonight it meant watching him run through Robert Whittaker with a beautiful first round stoppage.
- I thought Jessica Eye outworked Alexis Davis and deserved the win, but there was a case to be made for a Davis win. I don't think either woman made much of a case for being a challenger to Rousey, but who really can make that case?
- Cyborg can make that case.
- Erik Koch scored the only stoppage in all twenty preliminary fights in the month of February. That's a pretty crazy run of decisions that is unlikely to continue.