It took two minutes for Jake Paul to finish Ben Askren during Saturday’s Triller headliner in Atlanta. The former Bellator and ONE Championship titleholder was on wobbly legs after getting dropped with an overhand right, prompting referee Brian Stutts to step in and put the fight to a halt.
While many fight fans weren’t surprised about the outcome, a subset of viewers had their conspiracy theories.
Ben askren VS Jake Paul fight was rigged in Jake Paul’s favour. How has Ben been knocked that quick when he had fought harder opponents and just ate the punch’s :/— Commie jesus (@Burnsy5843) April 18, 2021
That stoppage on the Jake Paul vs Ben Askren fight was the most bs thing I’ve seen. Jake is clearly better boxer with more power but Ben was fine and listening to everything the ref was saying... #rigged— Jason Lanham (@lambo_lanham444) April 18, 2021
Like how a handful of MMA fighters felt the need to defend their community, referee Marc Goddard had the urge to respond to those who question the stoppage and Stutt’s decision.
Hours after the spectacle ended, the veteran MMA official took to Twitter to essentially debunk the suspicions that began to float around.
The referee made the right call for Ben Askren. No work. No conspiracy. No one was “in on it”. Just a referee preventing a forgone conclusion. We don’t always need to see a kill shot.— Marc Goddard (@marcgoddard_uk) April 18, 2021
John McCarthy, however, didn’t see it that way. While he didn’t play the “work” angle, he did pin the blame on referee Stutts for making a “small-time decision.”
“This is what happens when you have a small-time referee making small-time decisions,” McCarthy told Josh Thomson in a recent episode of their Weighing-In podcast. “And when I say small-time decisions, Ben Askren was up before there was even a count of eight. And was given a lot of extra time because the guy was trying to keep Jake Paul back.
“And this was the first round, there was a lot of people paying money for this fight, it’s not a regional grassroots fight where you have a four-rounder where someone gets knocked on the ground and you don’t want someone to get hurt.
“You make decisions based upon, ‘OK, I realize the situation that we’re in.’ And to stop the fight, no. You don’t stop the fight. You don’t just hand it to Jake Paul that way.”
McCarthy continued to talk about how poorly the stoppage was done.
“Yes, Ben got hit with the shot, but Ben was up and Ben was ready to go. His hands were in the right place, all the things that… Small-time decisions. It was really bad.
“If you’re gonna have a fight on and people are paying for it, then bring someone that understands what it’s like to referee a high-level competition or a big show. It was bad.”
“Paul, who is now 3-0 in his professional boxing record, has been a target of multiple MMA fighters who seemingly want an instant payday. The 36-year-old Askren, on the other hand, formally ended his combat sports career on Saturday as he intends to focus on running his wrestling academies.