Josh Rettinghouse took a savage beating from Marlon Moraes at World Series of Fighting 9 on Saturday night. There's no other real way to describe it. Moraes battered his leg with kicks to the point that Rettinghouse could barely stand in the third round. Just over halfway through the scheduled 25 minutes. The fact that the fight ended up going to a five-round decision after that should be a wake-up call to every single person involved in the farcical situation, all the way from the referee and doctors to Rettinghouse's corner and even Moraes himself.
I understand the desire to go out on your shield and as a fighter, and it's tough to draw the line between heart and personal safety. But that's one of the reasons you have cornermen - to save you from yourself. In this case, none of the people in Rettinghouse's corner did their jobs. They let their fighter get beaten to a pulp in a hopeless situation. There was no reason for him to carry on - he had no chance to win the fight. Yet they did nothing.
Referee Jason Herzog, a veteran referee in other states, was recently licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and this was his first event in the state to my knowledge. He sat there and watched a guy get brutalized so badly that he put forth little to no offense for half the fight, mostly because he was having trouble just staying upright. Was that enough for him to step in and bring and end to the fight? Nope.
Herzog did at least consult the doctor in between rounds a couple of times. What did that doctor do? Nothing.
Even Moraes himself shouldn't be left out of this conversation. It seemed like he could have finished the fight whenever he wanted, but he didn't go in for the kill. I have respect for a guy that isn't out there do totally devastate his opponent when it's obvious he's hurt. But this isn't checkers, it's a cage fight. You have to have killer instinct, and he could have brought that beating to a close at a time of his choosing. Instead, he let it go the full 25.
Even Rettinghouse's father (who was not one of his cornermen) didn't exactly earn dad of the year votes for his antics cageside, as documented by Jeremy Botter of Bleacher Report:
Rettinghouse's dad has partnered with a drunk man who nearly spilled his beer all over @shaunalshatti. This is great.— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) March 30, 2014
Rettinghouse Dad's buddy is just screaming sounds. He's not even making words now.— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) March 30, 2014
Dammit, they kicked out Rettinghouse Dad and Drunk Friend. That was the highlight of the night.— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) March 30, 2014
It should be made clear that Botter had no problem with the dad, so this isn't exactly a big deal. He also got tossed before Rettinghouse was on limpy street. But it was just another element in the perfect storm of crazy that went on during the bout.
I'm not one to get on my soapbox and complain about stuff like this very often, but this particular situation was just too much to ignore. My twitter feed was just a continual stream of "stop the damn fight" as the bout entered the fourth and fifth rounds:
GOD DAMMIT. This is just awful all around. SEND HIM BACK OUT! TO THE DEATH!— Brent Brookhouse (@brentbrookhouse) March 30, 2014
DUDE. STOP THE FIGHT.— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) March 30, 2014
Those are just two such examples. As much as we decry boxing for letting guys get their heads beaten in until they can barely talk when their careers are over, at least their corners will stop some fights where their man is being devastated. The referee will stop some fights before a fighter goes down if he's taking too much punishment (something I've been guilty of criticizing in MMA before, and I really need to re-think my opinion on that).
In this case, I saw some people saying "it's only his leg" like that made it no big deal.
That's just stupid to me. He had no business coming out for the last two rounds of that fight and it didn't matter if it was his leg, arm, head, pinky, or anything else.
Sadly this will all be forgotten in a few days when the next MMA controversy pops up. Rettinghouse will probably have trouble walking for a few weeks, and he'll bravely return to the cage to fight another day. Moraes will continue on as a top prospect. Herzog will ref some more fights in Nevada. And nothing will change.
But just this once, can we try to remember?