Dana White unhappy with cageside doctor in UFC on ESPN+ 31 main event

LAS VEGAS – UFC president Dana White had no issues with referee Herb Dean’s stoppage of Saturday night’s UFC on ESPN+ 31 main event between Derek Brunson and Edmen Shahbazyan, but he wasn’t too crazy about the cageside doctor.

The doctor assigned by the Nevada Athletic Commission received criticism from White about how he handled his interaction with Shahbazyan (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) just before the fighter was cleared to go out for what turned out to be a TKO loss 26 seconds into the third round.

Brunson (21-6 MMA, 12-4 UFC) nearly finished Shahbazyan with vicious ground-and-pound in the closing seconds of the second round of the middleweight fight, but Shahbazyan was saved by the horn.

“Shahbazyan looked like he was out at the end of that round,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at the post-fight news conference. “I think that the doctor could have stopped … first of all, the doctor’s obviously inexperienced. I don’t know anything about the doctor, but I’ve never seen him before.”

After the one-minute rest period between rounds, Shahbazyan stood in his corner, waiting for the call to start the third. But Dean signaled a timeout and called in the doctor. Then a relatively long conversation occurred before Shahbazyan was given the green light, which White thought was a disservice to Brunson.

“You’ve got Brunson, who ends that round strong, many could argue that fight could have been stopped there at the end of the round. I’m sure the ref thought that the guy would have time to go back,” White said. “What you don’t do is talk to the guy for (expletive) 10 minutes while he’s hurt. You know what I mean? Either stop the fight or let him continue, but go.”

At the end of the day, it was all moot, as Brunson went out and finished the job in short order for his third consecutive victory. But that doesn’t mean White likes the way things were handled.

“You’re letting the kid recover while you’ve got Brunson who did that work while he’s waiting for the bell to ring so that he can go in and finish the fight. Pull the trigger one way or the other. Stop the fight or don’t.”

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