For the most part, team MMA walked away from Triller’s debut Triad Combat boxing event with their heads held high. The hybrid pugilistic competition featured smaller, MMA styled gloves, a wider variety of allowable punches – including spinning backfists and ‘dirty boxing’ – as well as the promotion’s (debatably) signature triangle ring.
But there was one major victory on the boxing side of things, in the main event—where former heavyweight title contender Kubrat Pulev defeated former UFC champion Frank Mir via first round TKO. The fight wasn’t without controversy, however. Not over the result – which couldn’t have been clearer – but, instead, from the officiating. Despite Mir clearly being out on his feet, referee Dan Miragliotta was hesitant to call an end to the contest. Pulev would land only one further blow, a left hook to the jaw, before walking away of his own accord. Miragliotta waved the fight off shortly afterward.
The longtime UFC & MMA referee defended his delayed response to MMA Fighting, saying that “when Pulev backed out, I figured Mir had a chance to either go down and take that knee or put his hands up...”
Though, if his explanation hinged on waiting for Pulev to show more fight-ending aggression, not everyone seems like they’re buying the idea. Longtime boxing trainer, commentator, and analyst Teddy Atlas gave his own reaction to Mir vs. Pulev on a recent episode of his podcast, where he lambasted Miragliotta for failing to protect a fighter in obvious peril.
“We don’t exaggerate these things, we don’t look to do that, but [Frank Mir] could have really got hurt bad,” Atlas told listeners, speaking with his co-host Ken Rideout. “I mean, if it wasn’t for Pulev, not the ref – that ref should never fight again – not for the ref, not because of anything other than, really, where you wouldn’t expect it; Pulev had to be his own ref, he had to be his own conscience. He had to use control, discipline, character, humanity...”
“The match never should have been made,” Atlas added, after describing Mir’s state at the end of the bout at length. “You talk about making good matches? [Mir] was retired from the UFC, he lost four of his last five... and he’s 42 years old. I mean come on! And he’s not in shape. The fight never should have been made.
“The thing I go back to though, that still kind of gets where you can’t quite understand, is how do you have a referee not stopping that? That’s something I couldn’t really get my answer to.
“First of all, if that’s the guy, why is [Miragliotta] in the ring? He doesn’t know why he’s in the ring. If there’s ever an example of why you need a referee, that was it; to protect a guy, to save a guy, to save a life. To literally save a life, and he’s standing there. [Pulev] could throw another two, three punches if he didn’t decide not to throw them. I was trying to get an answer to why—I’m a stubborn son of a gun, you know that, and sometimes I want an answer. And I’m saying, ‘How is that the ref? And how is he allowed to be the ref? And how does he not recognize that moment is the moment he needed to be a ref?”
Going in to the fight, Mir claimed that, were he to win, he’d be lined up for the biggest payday of his combat sports career. Even more-so than his legendary rematch against Brock Lesnar at UFC 100. After this loss, however, it seems worth asking whether Mir’s dip into the boxing world has any life left in it?