MMA corner stoppages are extremely rare compared to their boxing counterparts. As such, MMA fans have witnessed scores of fights that had grounds to be stopped end up lasting far longer than necessary, and Wednesday’s UFC Jacksonville main event was no exception.
Anthony Smith suffered a prolonged and wholly uncomfortable beating at the hands of Glover Teixeira, with unanimous 10-8s handed out to Teixeira by the official judges in rounds three and four. Smith finally was put out of his misery by referee Jason Herzog just over a minute into the fifth and final frame.
Herzog allowing the fight to continue for as long as it did has drawn plenty of rightful criticism, especially when you could easily argue that Smith was done after the third-round knockdown. Smith’s corner, led by Factory X’s Marc Montoya, didn’t make any sort of effort to call the fight off and save Anthony from needless additional damage when he was exhausted and badly hurt. Not even his teeth falling out made a difference.
So what does Montoya have to say about not throwing in the towel? Well first off, he clarified to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that Smith’s “teeth” were actually veneers.
Spoke briefly to Anthony Smith's head coach Marc Montoya (@coachMMontoya). He said one thing people don't realize is Anthony has veneers, that have fallen out before in practice. So, when Anthony said his teeth were falling out, their interpretation was different from viewers.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 14, 2020
It was later confirmed that it was indeed Smith’s real teeth that fell out.
Just spoke to Anthony Smith via text.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) May 14, 2020
Injuries suffered tonight: Broken nose, broken orbital bone, two missing teeth and a cut under his right eye. One tooth in front and one towards the back, he said. His real teeth.
Then he followed up with the classic “well other fighters have comeback from bad situations too” argument that can easily be flipped into saying that fights should never be stopped.
Montoya said Anthony is a veteran and was "still in the fight" and we've seen many fighters who are losing come back to win. He congratulated Glover Teixeira and said he excepts full responsibility for the loss as Anthony's coach.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 14, 2020
In theory, Smith was still in the fight and throwing back, but it had no effect on Teixeira and seemingly everything that landed clean for Teixeira in the last couple of rounds was hurting Smith tremendously.
This isn’t the first time that Montoya has had one of his fighters take a gruesome beating without the towel being thrown in (or at least intervening between rounds). Last October, Thomas Gifford suffered a brutal third-round KO loss to Mike Davis in Tampa, and while the referee on that night received the brunt of the criticism for letting the fight continue for as long as it did, Montoya was in Gifford’s corner as he absorbed 139 significant strikes and two knockdowns. In a somewhat scary coincidence, Smith absorbed 138 significant strikes (and 112 to the head) and one knockdown.
I do not know what it’ll take for MMA corners to throw in the towel — whether proverbially or literally — but I hope it doesn’t have to involve something truly tragic. Michael Bisping said it best on the UFC post-fight show, and even boxing is far from perfect on that front.