UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith got rocked hard enough by Glover Teixeira that his opponent gave him a mid-fight apology for the beating last week.
That led to the always uncomfortable question of whether or not Smith’s corner should have thrown in the towel during a loss that reportedly left Smith on crutches and with a broken nose, broken orbital bone, two missing teeth and a cut under his right eye.
Smith revealed Tuesday that, by his own insistence, his corner didn’t have a choice at all.
Anthony Smith: My corner isn’t allowed to throw in the towel
During an interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Smith explained that his corner is under explicit orders to never throw in the towel during a fight. Doing so will apparently lead to an immediate firing.
Smith’s explanation when asked about criticism against his team:
I feel bad because they’re in a tough spot. I don’t know if they wanted to stop it or if they thought about it, but I take that option away from them before any of this ever happened, before anything. I took that option away a long time ago.
If you want to sit in my corner, that’s my rule. You don’t stop the fight. Leave it in my hands. Don’t take it out of my hands. So I’ve told them before, if you stop the fight, if you throw the towel in, you can go ahead and walk back to the locker room by yourself because I’ll never stand by you again. I don’t need liabilities in my corner.
The way that I fight, I end up in s---ty spots sometimes, and that’s just how it goes. Most of the time, I’ve been able to come back and win. And sometimes, you can’t. Sometimes you just run out of time, and sometimes it’s just too high of a hill to climb. But I don’t need those liabilities, I don’t need to be getting to bad spots, working my ass off to try to get to a better position, and constantly have in the back of my head worried that my corner’s gonna step in and not give me the opportunity. Whether they did or they didn’t it, didn’t matter. That’s the rule.
Smith went onto explain that he believes it’s on the referees and fight doctors to call a fight when he’s in bad enough shape:
We don’t stop fights, that’s it. There’s a lot of people that’s on and that is the referee and the doctor. There’s a reason those people have a job. That’s their job. If he thought that it needed to be stopped, then that’s on him. If the doctor thinks that I can’t continue, then that’s on him. That’s his job, that’s what he went to school for, that’s what he’s being paid for. I’m paying them to help me win fights. I don’t need them constantly in the back of their head worrying about how much damage I’m taking. That’s not their job. They are paid to help me win fights, that’s it.
Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack in there.
Smith clearly has a narrow view of what his corner’s duties are, as well as plenty of trust in UFC staff to save him if he ends up in trouble. How you feel might depend on whether you think a fighter’s team’s job is to help them win fights or look out for what’s best for them.
Even Dana White was shocked that Smith was allowed to keep fighting against Teixeira, as he texted Yahoo Sports during the fight “I honestly thought they wouldn’t let him come out for the fifth.”
It’s not surprising that Smith is the one saying this — his nickname is “Lionheart” for god’s sake — but you still have to wonder if Smith is creating long-term dangers for himself by approaching a fight this way.
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