We already know that the brave and skilled MMA warriors that fight in India's Super Fight League can produce video game-like highlights. Unfortunately, one of the referees working today's SFL card apparently made the mistake of thinking that a fight he officiated was actually between two video game characters instead of real human beings in need of professional officiating.
As a result, one of them was hurt badly, and needlessly. In video games, energy bars can dip and rise in their cartoon characters without material consequence to a real human.
In real fights, there is no energy bar or special codes. There is, however, brain trauma.
Strawweight Pooja Tomar took far too much today because of a negligent referee who took too long to stop the one-sided beating (below) she took at the hands of Hannah Kampf.
Fighters caught in bad spots, on their feet or on the ground, are usually reminded by concerned and competent referees that they need to imminently improve their position to demonstrate some type of intelligent and effective defense. Tomar's referee had no such hangups, evidently.
Early in the first round of her fight against Kampf, Tomar was forced to the mat, face-down, with her hips completely flattened out. That is quite possibly the most defenseless position in all of MMA as one is then quite susceptible to both a rear-naked choke and strikes that you cannot see coming or provide much blocking coverage from.
Kampf went right to punches and landed about 30 (go ahead and count them for yourself in the above video) punches to a prone, flattened Tomar before the position changed in the slightest. All throughout this ugly ordeal, as Tomar's head bounced from right to left with each thudding punch, the referee not only didn't stop the fight, but also didn't appear to give a physical indication that he was close to doing so.
You just don't see this type of negligence among top, qualified referees in MMA. They usually recognize particularly dangerous positions like the one Tomar was in and are quick to jump in to save fighters from their own toughness when it is clear that they are absorbing punishment with no hope of getting free.
But wait, we're not done here. After the first 30 or so consecutive punches to the head of Tomar she turned to her side slightly, but with Kampf still mounted and ate about 30 more strikes to the head.
The referee still didn't stop the fight at that point.
You read that correctly. About 60 uncontested punches and elbows into a hellacious beating the referee still didn't see a reason to halt the fight.
It wasn't until Tomar gave up her arm and was caught in a straight armlock and tapped out that the statue of a referee interceded and stopped the mess.
It is worth mentioning that even in elite world championship-level MMA fights where referees often let experienced veteran fighters absorb more punishment before saving them from themselves, over 60 straight strikes to the head of an opponent caught in a dominant position on the mat would be considered well beyond the realm of acceptability.
These two brave women came into this contest with a combined three pro fights, yet were treated by the referee with all the regard for the safety of an 1890's bare knuckle, unlimited rounds boxing fight.
"The ref is right there. I'm not sure what he's seeing that we're not," one of the incredulous broadcasters said, about half-way through the miserable and dangerous display. We don't know what the referee thought he was looking at, either.
We do, however, know exactly what we were looking at - an unprotected fighter absorbing far too much punishment because of a horrendous referee.
MMA has been much safer, in terms of serious injuries to the head and spine, than other sports like boxing and football in large part because of its culture which demands educated referees stop fights a little too early, rather than too late. A fight like this is an ugly aberration in MMA and a deviation from a mostly healthy culture and value-set.
Here's hoping that particular referee and his behavior is looked at closely and that proper action is taken to make sure he isn't allowed to be in charge of athletes' safety again until he learns more about what is demanded of the important position.