(note: please click links for GIF's sourced from various places on the Internet, and a special thank you to Zombie Prophet for making them)
We all love a clean "walk off" Knock Out or a crazy submission that swiftly leaves no doubt in our minds who the clear cut victor is. Alas that is not always the case and often we are left asking "was that stoppage too soon"? such as the case in Faber's last fight or "was that knock out the result of hits the back of the head"? as the case last night or even more obviously (imho) Browne vs Gonzaga finish.
Here in lies the question: When is the fight over; when the fighter is unconscious or when the ref indicates its over?
Personally, I believe the fight is only over when the ref stops the fight, either verbally or if (s)he has to to dive in and stop it.
Any strike that is thrown before that moment can be judged legal or illegal. I understand that this may be a two edged sword. For example Henderson's follow up H-Bomb should be deemed a legal strike even though we all know it was not necessary and we would thought Henderson was even more badass than we already think he is had he turned and walked back to his corner, a la Hunt. By this standard then illegal blows to the back of the head EVEN AFTER a fighter is unconscious need to be deemed illegal and the proper repercussions must be administered.
I liken it to a hockey player turning his back to the attacker and getting hit from behind, it is ALWAYS the aggressors responsibility to hit a player legally or at the very least try to stop themselves from hitting with full force. Even when a player has no chance to stop, such as the scary incident recently in Toronto. The hitter was still given a Major Penalty and ejected from the game even though Ranger (the player being hit) turned his back at the last moment after Killorn had committed to the hit.
Whether a ref can see that the blows are connecting to the back of the head or not, there is a level of responsibility that the UFC (or other organizations) have to take to determine the correct winner or even declare a no contest (this may be a state commission thing, i am not 100% sure). As the sport develops the fighters are hitting, moving, sweeping, submitting faster than ever it may be time to start using the replays more to help the refs determine what is transpiring in the cage.
Please feel free to let me know your opinions.