The Coach in the Naughty Corner!
Written by Emjay on June 21, 2020
Last night’s action from inside the APEX Center in Las Vegas was another case of history in the making with Curtis Blaydes putting on a Heavyweight takedown masterclass while controversy in the opening bout of the night has again raised the rather thorny issue of corners protecting their fighters.
The co-main event saw a potential Fight-of-the-Year contender as Josh Emmett and Shane Burgos put on thrilling display of back-and-forth striking in their featherweight clash. The Fight-of-the-Night performance – earning both fighters a $50,000 bonus – saw Josh Emmett take a UD victory and improve his record to 5-1 in his last 6 fights.
The main event at #UFCVegas3 saw Curtis Blaydes continue his push for a title shot by winning his fourth straight fight. Blaydes also made history by recording 14 takedowns – a heavyweight single-fight record that surpasses Cain Velasquez’s mark of 11 – on his way to a UD victory over the more experienced Alexander Volkov. Despite not delivering on his promise to end the fight early, Blaydes has certainly cemented his position as a legitimate title contender with only one obstacle in his way – Francis Ngannou – the man responsible for his only 2 professional career losses!
Despite some great match-making, #UFCVegas3 will be remembered for the controversy involving the late-notice debut of Max Rohskopf in the night’s opening bout against Austin Hubbard. Coming into this fight on 5-days notice and with a record of 5-0, Rohskopf took a pounding in the second round and quit the fight a minute later despite his coach, Robert Drysdale, trying to convince him to continue fighting. Rohskopf can be heard asking his corner to “call it” nine times during the one-minute rest period between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. His corner – despite what looks a whispered plea – seemed to refuse their fighter’s pleas, and were it not for Rohskopf approaching NSAC inspector Charvez Foger to stop his fight, were intent on sending him back out!
This issue of bad “cornering” is not a new issue, with many commentators calling the actions of Drysdale – an accomplished BJJ practitioner and a former UFC athlete – as some of the worst corner work they had seen! That is a bold statement especially if one thinks back to the women’s bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington a few years ago. How about the women’s featherweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Felicia Spencer where many agree that Spencer’s corner should have thrown in the towel? Then there is the much-talked about “Anthony Smith and his shield” in that light heavyweight loss at the hands of Glover Teixeira. At least, following on this instance, the NSAC will be looking into the incident with NSAC executive Director Bob Bennett telling ESPN on Saturday night. “We might want to take disciplinary action on them. That doesn’t sound like they are looking out for a fighter. Obviously, he didn’t want to come out [and fight].”
So what are your thoughts on the opening bout of #UFCVegas3 and in particular the contradictory remarks from Dana White on the issue, as he initially told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto after the fight that “no matter how you come in – short notice or whatever the deal is – you gotta go.” While later at a press conference, he told reporters “If that kid felt like he needed to quit tonight, who the f— is anybody to judge him on that?”