In MMA, a cornerman stopping a fight is very, very rare. Unlike boxing, the people advising a fighter are almost guaranteed to let a guy go out on his shield rather than protect their fighter. That's why it was so surprising (in a good way) when Trevor Wittman stopped Nate Marquardt's UFC 188 fight with Kelvin Gastelum after the second round of a one-sided beating. What's even more surprising though is that Wittman actually tried while the round was still going on, but his request was ignored. He explained the whole deal to MMA Junkie:
"Taking needless damage is not good in this sport," he said. "The damage is when it affects your sharpness and the way you perform, and to see him take punishment, that's longevity and him having kids."
In boxing, when a trainer steps on the apron it generally means he wants to stop the fight. So he did that. And was pulled away.
"They grabbed me, and their concern was that people couldn't see. I'm sitting there swearing at these guys, and they're like, ‘Get down. No one can stop the fight but the referee or the doctor.'"
Normally you're allowed to throw in the towel, but the exact rules vary from commission to commission. At the end of the round, he told the cageside doctor and other people that Nate couldn't continue. This time they heeded his advice and the bout was stopped.
Marquardt had apparently been dealing with health issues leading up to the bout, which he detailed in a post on his website yesterday.
In the end, Wittman understands the praise he has received for the decision but said he was just doing what's right for his fighter:
"I think people praise it because you just don't see it that often, because they're afraid to do it. They're afraid they're going to lose their job with an athlete.
"I'm going to say it when I think it's right, especially when you're starting to see too many concussions back to back, and that was my main concern with Nate."
He also said that Dana White gave him some advice backstage after the fight:
"‘Throw the frickin’ towel in,'" Wittman remembers. "I was like, ‘Sh-t, I would have.'"