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Former ringside doctor: Ref stopped Mayweather vs McGregor due to ‘signs of traumatic brain injury’

Former ringside physician Darragh O’Carroll, MD claims that Robert Byrd had every right to stop the fight when he did and that McGregor showed signs of a concussion.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

When referee Robert Byrd stepped in to stop the bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor in the 10th round on August 26th, McGregor was not terribly pleased with the decision. While clearly on wobbly legs, and eating a number of unanswered blows, McGregor told the assembled crowd after the fight, that he would have preferred to go out on his shield, and that he was merely tired, not injured, when the bout was stopped.

“I thought it was close though, and I thought it was a little early on the stoppage,” McGregor said immediately after the fight. “I get like that when I’m tired. I get a little wobbly and flow-y. But, I go back to my corner and I recover and I come back. And I’d have liked it to hit the floor. I’d like the ref to... you know what I mean? There’s a lot on the line here. He should have let me keep going, I thought.”

And while his stance earned him a lot of respect from fans who had hoped to see him win – and even some who had shown up to watch him lose – the reality would have likely been a much less endearing idea.

McGregor is quick to claim that he was never actually hurt, in the fight, only “bolloxed,” as he termed it. But, in a post for Vice’s “TONIC” column, former ringside physician, Darragh O’Carroll, MD, argues that the UFC lightweight champion was showing several signs that he may have been suffering from a concussion when Robert Byrd stepped in to save him (h/t MMAMania).

Byrd's calculation to call a stoppage was likely not based on signs of fatigue, but rather signs of traumatic brain injury. Ataxia, or dizziness and loss of balance, is one of the hallmarks of concussion, a type of mild traumatic brain injury. Fatigue may cause sluggish and slow movements, but does not cause the imbalance and poor coordination exhibited by McGregor in the 10th round. Being wobbly, in the setting of pugilistic trauma, will always be treated as the result of head trauma and not as fatigue. To let a fighter continue on would be grossly negligent.

Even if he was in fact ‘only tired,’ as he claims, it’s hard not to think the referee made the right move calling the fight off when he did. McGregor was on the rough end of the bout by the end of the ninth round, and the brief break heading into the tenth did nothing to help regain his stamina. At the rate that Mayweather was pouring on offense late, it seems very likely that McGregor would have taken a lot more punishment on his way to the kind of serious traumatic brain injury that comes with an unnecessary knockout loss.

In the meantime, he still got one heck of a payday, KO or no, and the biggest question remaining stands as: Who does Conor McGregor fight next? In which sport? And how soon?