Robert Whittaker speaking at the UFC 234 press conference

One of the hot topics from UFC Sacramento this past weekend was early stoppages, but middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will always side with the referee when it comes to it.

In the co-headliner, Urijah Faber dropped Ricky Simon in the first round and proceeded to land some ground and pound to eventually get the win. However, many felt Simon was not out of it and deserved a bit more time to try and get out of the situation.

Then, in the headliner, Germaine de Randemie dropped Aspen Ladd with a perfect right hand early on in the first round. Ladd was face down and was about to get hit with a follow-up strike before referee Herb Dean called an end to the action.

On the one hand, many felt Ladd could have continued. On the other, some felt she was bound to get finished sooner or later and would be taking unnecessary damage.

Germaine de Randamie strikes Aspen Ladd at UFC Fight Night 155
Germaine de Randamie lands a left jab against Aspen Ladd at UFC Fight Night 155 (UFC/Getty Images)

It’s not the first time fans and media have complained about early stoppages, and won’t be the last. But Whittaker believes some perspective is needed.

“The thing with me is, I always, always lean towards favoring the ref’s decision,” Whittaker said in a recent Q&A. “It’s very, very easy to sit on the outside and be like, ‘what was that? That was an early stoppage.’ But you weren’t in there, the call wasn’t yours to make. The pressure of making the call wasn’t yours to make, so shut up.

“Now, in saying that. From the outside, it looked maybe it was a bit early. But then from the inside, it could have looked differently.”

Whittaker has also suffered from an arguable early stoppage when he fought Stephen Thompson back in 2014 — his last loss. But despite that, he will still support the referees given the tough demands of their job.

“Again, I always support the ref’s decision,” Whittaker added. “I believe they’re doing what they think is best at the time. They have a heavy, heavy responsibility with a lot of pressure. This is coming from someone who feels a little salty from an early stoppage in my own career. When I got dropped by Thompson, I felt I could have kept fighting. But the ref stopped it and I was a little salty afterwards thinking I could have kept fighting.

“But then, I shouldn’t have let it get that far anyway. It was a great win for him and the ref’s doing the best job he can so I’m supporting the ref’s decision because it’s a hard job to do. And if any of the people are complaining, you think you can do better? Do better. Try.”

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One Comment

  1. Whittaker v Thompson might have been stopped early, but not like this.
    Herb’s done it a few times, as well, most recently to end Askren v Lawlor, so keep an eye on him.
    Whittaker might “always lean towards favoring the ref’s decision” now, but let something like this happen in October.