When Robbie Lawler had Josh Koscheck hurt at UFC 157, he pounced.
After giving up a couple of early takedowns in the Feb. 23 welterweight encounter, Lawler got to his feet, landed a big left hand and followed up with a series of powerful rights that compelled referee Herb Dean to call the fight.
Koscheck appeared to briefly contest the stoppage, which was judged early by some.
“I saw a fighter take a big shot and stop fighting,” Dean explained during an interview with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I saw he was being controlled. [Lawler] was controlling his position, and [Koscheck] wasn’t doing anything to take back control of that position. I saw shots coming and I saw his hands moving away from defending himself. People don’t do that on purpose. People do that because they’re hurt, and my job is to keep them from getting hurt further.”
Dean is widely regarded as one of the best referees in MMA. In stopping the Koscheck-Lawler bout, he paid particular attention to the way Lawler attacked his opponent when he had him dazed.
“Some guys can’t generate a lot of power while punching on the ground,” Dean said. “In that situation, Robbie Lawler was able to control him as well as hit him very hard and continue hitting him hard. The punches were coming hard and fast. That’s one of the things I look at. I look at, ‘OK, is the guy hurt? Is the other guy going to give him a chance to recover? Or are those punches coming hard and fast? Is he going to stop the next punch?’ I didn’t see anything that led me to believe Koscheck was going to stop the next punch.”
Earlier in the night, Dean refereed a brutal matchup between Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice. Both men absorbed plenty of punishment, but Dean let them continue and the bout ended up winning “Fight of the Night.”
Grice especially was in trouble.
“Matt Grice was hurt,” Dean said. “He was hurt really bad. He was hurt to where at some points the cage was keeping him up. The cage was what was keeping him on his feet. But at the same time, he chose to stay there because he knew, ‘Hey, I need a little help, so I’m going to stay by the cage and use the cage to give me a little help.’ One time he could have moved out, and I saw him move back towards the cage. He was still thinking and doing things to defend himself. … Standing up is half the battle, right? The guy was still standing. Yes, someone can be out on their feet, but he was able to keep standing, and after each of those exchanges, he answered back and let me know that he was still in the game. That’s all I ask with fighters: Do something back. Give me an excuse to let your match continue.”
Koscheck did not, according to Dean.
“As far as that stoppage, I don’t say it was the most definitive because [Koscheck] did kind of recover fast,” Dean said. “But based on what I’m looking at when I stop a fight, I think I felt good about what I did.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 33:17).