Matt Brown understands better than most how much fighters always want the chance to continue fighting.
That said, the veteran UFC welterweight believes that coaches need to be willing to save a fighter from themselves, especially when there’s an instance where an athlete is absorbing an obscene amount of damage without offering up much proof that a comeback is possible.
This past weekend at UFC 283, Lauren Murphy absorbed the second-most significant strikes (231) in a three-round fight in UFC history during her battle with Jessica Andrade. There were several moments where it appeared the referee might actually stop the fight and there were numerous calls on social media for Murphy’s coaches to throw in the towel.
After returning home from Brazil, Murphy praised her coaches for allowing her to continue and defended that decision while stating “it’s a fist fight, sometimes we get beat up, sometimes it might make you uncomfortable — that is your problem.”
For his part, Brown absolutely understands Murphy’s position because he would say the exact same thing but the same doesn’t go for her coaches.
“That’s a corner’s job,” Brown explained on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “If my corner ever stops a fight, I’m going to get pissed at them. But guess what? I’m also going to thank them later, assuming they made a good, educated decision, and that’s one of their primary jobs as a corner is to see a fight objectively knowing your athlete, knowing if there’s a true path to victory for their athlete.”
Because mixed martial arts has produced some truly remarkable comebacks, Brown says it’s natural for every fighter to believe a win is always possible.
Unfortunately there are far more occasions where an athlete just suffers undue punishment when it was clear there was no avenue to walk away victorious and then it just becomes a battle to survive.
“MMA’s crazy right. We’re always like there’s still that chance. Anderson Silva–Chael Sonnen, there’s that chance,” Brown said. “That’s rare though and these guys work with corners and they know their athletes so well and they know. They’ve seen them get through these hard practices and come back from injuries and deal with things that are unrealistic for normal people to deal with. In that third, fourth and fifth round, the whole time the corner’s thinking they’ve still got a chance! This is my guy. They’ve still got a chance. I think that’s an egotistical way to look at it.
“You have to look at it objectively and your job as a corner, not your primary job but one of your main jobs is to protect your fighter. You see it in boxing. When there’s no longer a clear path to victory for their fighter, they stop it. It’s one thing when there’s no clear path to victory but now there’s not a clear path to victory and you’re taking shots, you have to jump in to stop the fight.”
In his own career, Brown has engaged in some truly epic wars with past opponents and there’s never been a time when he didn’t want the opportunity to go out on his shield.
The 42-year-old veteran has also spent a lot of time as a coach and he knows that sometimes it’s just better to live to fight another day, which is why he’s an advocate for throwing in the towel when certain situations call for it.
“I’m a savage motherf*****,” Brown said. “I want to see head butts brought back. I want to see bare knuckles. I want to see kicks to downed opponents. I want all this stuff but I would also like to see corners be real coaches and be real corners and step up and stop it for their [fighters].
“I would never tell my corner don’t stop the fight no matter what or I’m going to fire you if you stop it or something like that. Again, I would be totally angry, I would frustrated and hateful toward my corner for doing that in the moment but 20 years from now, I’m going to say thank you for doing that.”
When it comes specifically to Murphy’s situation, Brown sympathizes with the desire to continue but based on everything he witnessed that night, he believes the fight should have been stopped.
“It was clear she had no path to victory and she was taking shots that she wasn’t going to stop taking shots and there was no clear path to victory,” Brown said. “With that said, I would have stopped it seeing it on TV.
“There’s things that you see live when you’re five feet away from the action that maybe you don’t see on TV, which is I think is pretty rare and not the case, but if I was in the corner, I would have stopped the fight, yes.”