Trainer: Fight was "good for Kimbo" but second-round stoppage justified
by MMAjunkie.com Staff on Jun 04, 2008 at 12:52 pm ET
Longtime MMA fighter and broadcaster Bas Rutten, who's also the trainer for Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson and the main reason the heavyweight has garnered any sense of credibility within the sport, says that Saturday's win will be good for the fighter.
However, he also admits that the fight should have been stopped in the second round when Ferguson was tagged with nearly a full minute of unanswered ground and pound.
Rutten discussed Saturday's controversial CBS "EliteXC: PRIMETIME" main event between Ferguson and James Thompson, in depth, on his personal website.
More than anything, Rutten said that fight was good for Ferguson because he needed to be tested, especially since he's only been in MMA for a year. Ferguson's previous three fights (two pro bouts and an exhibition fight) lasted an average of just 46 seconds.
"I have to say that I am very happy with [Kimbo's] fight and his performance and that this fight made him way stronger for next time," Rutten wrote. "When you get caught in training by something, whether it's a submission or strike, you learn from that, but there is nothing like learning it the hard way in a fight."
After a back-and-forth battle through the first two rounds, Ferguson earned the TKO stoppage just 38 seconds into the third round. The stoppage has been heavily criticized, largely because Thompson was still standing at the time. Rutten wrote that he would have liked the fight to continue, but he felt the referee's stoppage was justified considering the amount of damage the British fighter and PRIDE veteran suffered.
"He finished with hitting Thompson with a four-punch combination with the last one of those being a hard right upper cut," Rutten wrote. "Thompson staggered back, and the referee stopped the fight. Was it too soon? I thought it would be great to see a few more shots just so that he was down for real. But I guess the referee had the two or three times that Thompson was hurt in the earlier rounds in his head, plus than he also got hit on his cauliflower ear that busted open, and he had a different look in his eyes."
However, in a post script to his column, Rutten also addressed the heavily discussed ending to the second round. After failing to secure a submission attempt, Ferguson was on his back, and Thompson rained down dozens of elbows and punches from the sidemount position. Ferguson did little to nothing to defend the blows, especially as Thompson locked in a crucifix position. However, whenever the referee threatened to stop the bout, Ferguson either gave the thumbs-up or tried to control the wrists of Thompson. He survived for the third round.
Rutten, though, admits that the fight should have been stopped in the second when taking into account the current state of MMA rules.
"People ask me if the fight should have been stopped at the end in the second round," Rutten wrote. "I say 'yes' because those are the rules. It should have been stopped because Kimbo didn't do anything to improve his situation. But I think what made the ref not do it was the fact that Kimbo was giving his thumbs-up the whole time to let the referee know that he was OK."
However, according to Rutten, any criticism over the stoppage should not be directed at Ferguson himself.
"This was the ref's decision, not Kimbo's," Rutten wrote.