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Bisping criticizes cornermen, ref for UFC Jacksonville stoppage: ‘We’ve got to catch up to boxing’

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“I love MMA, but we’ve got to catch up to boxing in regards to stopping the fight.”

Michael Bisping feels cornermen and referees need to act sooner to prevent fighters from taking unnecessary punishment.

Bisping criticized Anthony Smith’s cornermen and referee Jason Herzog for the UFC Jacksonville stoppage this past Wednesday at VyState Veterans Memorial Arena, where Smith suffered a fifth-round TKO against Glover Teixeira in the UFC Fight Night 171 headliner.

Smith told his corner in between rounds that he felt his teeth falling out and, at one point, ‘Lionheart’ handed over a missing tooth to the referee, but Herzog didn’t to stop the fight until the fifth round.

Speaking on the ESPN+ post-fight show, Bisping said MMA has a ways to go before it catches up to boxing in the health and safety department, as boxing cornermen usually throw in the towel much sooner to protect the fighter at all costs.

“I love Anthony Smith,” Bisping said, per MMA Fighting. “He works with us. He’s a part of the team. May the best man win, and that’s how I truly felt. But watching it there tonight, I was like, ‘My word, stop this fight.’ Either the corner and referee needs to do this. I love MMA, but we’ve got to catch up to boxing in regards to stopping the fight.”

Bisping’s co-analyst, Paul Felder, agrees, claiming that Smith was in no position to continue past the fourth round.

“[Smith] was taking a beating, and Anthony Smith is as tough as they come,” Felder said. “He’s not going to quit. He’s not going to tell anyone he doesn’t want to do it. The ref was giving him every chance; he probably could have had a chance to stop that fight. Going into that fifth round, it’s your corner’s job to say, ‘You don’t seem mentally there. You’re saying that you are, but I’m not sure that you are.’”

Cormier, who covered the action ringside, feels Smith’s cornermen did the former UFC light heavyweight title challenger a disservice by not stopping the fight earlier.

“We are obligated to hold people accountable for what they’re doing tonight, I think [Smith’s coaches] did Anthony Smith a disservice,” Cormier said.

Bisping didn’t want to lay too much of the blame on Smith’s cornermen, as ‘The Count’ feels the referee was also in a position to stop the fight much sooner.

“It came to a point where it seemed like Anthony wasn’t going to turn the tide,” he said. “He has a lot of heart – ‘Lionheart’ by name, ‘Lionheart’ by nature. But it came to a point where, it’s done. It’s over. He’s not going to win this fight. The referee should have stepped in. When you come to a point where your cornerman is picking up your teeth and putting them in his pocket, that’s a pretty good sign that this fight is nearing the end.”

Smith, 31, lost two teeth and is thought to have suffered multiple facial fractures. As of writing, the Factory X fighter is ranked #4 in the UFC light heavyweight rankings.