Mistakes and regrets aplenty for Big Nog

December, 15, 2011
12/15/11
2:14
PM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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Antonio Rodrigo NogueiraEd Mulholland for ESPN.comAntonio Rodrigo Nogueira, right, was having his way with Frank Mir before disaster struck.
A few days have passed, and some in the MMA community are still flummoxed by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s loss with Frank Mir. In retrospect, that Kimura which Mir used to submit Big Nog looks like it was on pretty tight and Nogueira should have probably tapped. Then again, allowing your arm to be broken when a simple tap frees the shackles means you probably don’t believe in retrospects to begin with. It means you believe in not tapping.

And the calcification process.

But the broken arm wasn’t the most confounding thing that happened in the co-main event at UFC 140. The worse thing to digest, if you’re playing out the whole string of regrets, is that Nogueira didn’t finish the job with his fists while he had Mir groping around on the floor like a man who’d lost a contact lens. At that moment, it was Nog’s fight to lose. And that's exactly what he did.

Nogueira rocked Mir with a right hand that swooned the whole 260-pound fighter, then began hacking away once the fight hit the ground. Referee Herb Dean stepped in closer with his hands ready to make the "enough is enough"/"land here, copter" motion. Dean warned Nogueira to watch the back of the head as the finishing blows were being dealt, and that’s precisely when Nogueira -- inexplicably, stupefyingly, regrettably -- pulled guard and set the tables to be reversed. What looked like a guillotine attempt by Nogueira, acted like an instant reprieve. Mir regained his wits and rolled out easily. Twenty seconds later, Nogueira’s right arm lay at his side as a macabre scene. He stared at it like it didn’t belong to him.

The whole chain of events was crazy. And since then, depending on your outlook, Nogueira is either stubborn or a warrior -- or a stubborn warrior -- for not tapping. Maybe the better way to break it down is that he was brave not to tap, but silly to put himself in that position to begin with (remembering, of course, that there’s such a thing as the “heat of the moment”). At any rate, an antonym of Nogueira this week is “smart,” yet now there are even further voices chiming in on that strange piece of theater that played out in Toronto.
[+] EnlargeFrank Mir, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesShould the referee have stopped the bout while Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was battering Frank Mir?

This time from Luiz Dorea --Nogueira’s boxing coach and friend -- who told Brazilian blog Por Dentro da Arena that the fight should have been stopped during the Nogueira onslaught.

“Minotauro landed a sequence of attacks and left Mir passive on the ground, without defense and with his head downward taking more punches,” he said. “[Mir] was passive. That was the signal for the referee to have stopped the fight at that time. Mir was defenseless but not all referees behave the same way. Despite the standard improving, there are still fails in MMA refereeing.”

Herb Dean isn’t used to being thrown under the bus, but it comes with the territory. Yet watching the fight again, Dorea’s assessment seems like sour grapes. Mir was down and closing in on out, but he was still on all fours and trying to get out of harm's way, which can’t be considered “unintelligent.” Had Dean stopped the fight then, there would have been a far stronger upheaval about an early stoppage.

So the fight was allowed to play out as it should, which ended up being a fight that played out in ways it shouldn’t have. At least for Big Nog, who will have a long rehabilitation period to think over the mistakes. Regrets, as been said, have managed to stay in a business a long, long time.

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