He’s watched countless bouts, but even UFC President Dana White found this one tough viewing.
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Ultimate Fighting Championship held its second of three events with no spectators Wednesday, this one in Jacksonville, Florida.
Veteran light heavyweight contenders Glover Teixeira and Anthony Smith battled in the main event, with the Brazilian fighter dominating and ultimately prevailing in the fifth round via TKO.
In the penultimate round Teixeira had been pummeling Smith. At one point, Smith handed referee Jason Herzog his teeth, which the ref put in his pocket. After the round, Smith told his corner that his teeth were falling out. The fight would continue before Teixeira won at the 1:04 mark of the next round.
But should the fight have lasted that long?
“I didn’t think his corner was going to let him come out,” White said during the post-fight press conference. “But that’s between them and their corner. And then the ref could have stopped that in the fourth too. Us sitting on the outside it was a little tough to watch.”
Smith suffered “a broken nose, broken orbital bone, two missing teeth and a cut under his right eye. One tooth in front and one towards the back, his real teeth,” according to ESPN.
CNN has contacted Smith’s trainer Marc Montoya but hadn’t received a reply at the time of publication.
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‘This isn’t just some crazy’
White is acutely aware of the increased scrutiny the UFC is under.
He told CNN Sport from his headquarters in Las Vegas recently that “everyone is motivated to try to figure this thing out and bring back sports.”
“This isn’t just some crazy, this is a well thought out plan,” he continued. “We’ve had very, very smart people, doctors and people that have been involved with the UFC for a very long time working on this thing non-stop since it started. We believe that we have this thing in a place where it can be as safe as it can possibly be.”
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As for Wednesday’s fight, Smith didn’t mind that it wasn’t stopped.
“I’m good with the decisions the referee and my corner made,” Smith said to ESPN. “When the ref made it clear he needed to see something or he was gonna stop it, I did what I had to do to stay in the fight. I come out of battle with my shield or I come out on it. That’s my rule. Period.”
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The third UFC event in the space of eight days takes place Saturday.