In an interview with FiveOuncesOfPain.com, Nick Lembo, legal counsel and the NJACB‘s highest ranking official in attendance at Saturday night’s EliteXC ‘Primetime’ On CBS event, sets the record straight on the controversial fight stoppages that occurred in the event’s three biggest fights. Dr. Sherry Wulkan, the ringside physician, followed up with Five Oz. editor Sam Caplan for further clarification. The referee for the Kimbo Slice/James Thompson bout, Dan Miragliotta, commented on why he stopped the fight despite James Thompson still being on his feet.
Gina Carano vs Kaitlin Young
At the end of the second round, Dan came up to me and said “Both fighters are completely exhausted.” And he didn’t think they were going to complete the next round and basically he stood them up because, again, there was no damage and he thought whoever connected with some decent punches standing that the fight was going to end. At that point, I immediately went into see him and asked him why did you stop the fight? And he said “Thompson’s eyes looked odd. His head went back and he dropped his hands.” And then we he swatted at Dan, I asked him “Do you want me to recommend a suspension for James?” And he said, “Nick, I don’t even think he knew who I was at that point.” And once he regrouped, he immediately apologized.
Why I stopped the fight was the uppercut-cross-hook-uppercut combination that knocked him on his ass — well, not on his ass, but it knocked him into the fence. I looked into his eyes. I saw the blank stare, I knew he was out of it, I stopped the fight, and when I grabbed him to tell him the fight was over he still thought he was fighting Kimbo. He tried to take a swing at me and didn’t realize where he was at.
I thought this fight was stopped prematurely, but I also wasn’t the one two feet in front of them in the cage responsible for their safety. It certainly wasn’t the worst stoppage in the history of the sport.
Scott Smith vs. Robbie Lawler
The referee, Dan Miragliotta, went up to Scott and said he got poked in the eye and called an accidental foul, put the fighters in their neutral corners, and went over to Scott and said “Are you okay? You have up to five minutes.” At that point, Scott said “I can’t see out of my eye.” Then at that point Dan said to him “I’m going to call in the doctor to look at you. I’m telling you that if you tell the doctors that you can’t see, they are going to stop the fight.” Dr. Angela Gagliardi went in there first to examine Scott and she said that “He said he could not see.” And then she came back and told me that and I said, “Of course he can’t see, he just got poked in the eye.”
At that point, I called for Dr. Sherry Wulkan, who again, is a top MMA doctor for us and was working as the nearby cage entrance. And I called her in to say “Hey, this is a championship fight, I want you specifically to look at Scott because nobody wants a fighter that can’t continue medically to continue but you have the most experience with MMA.” She goes up to Scott and asks, “How’s your vision?” He goes, “I can’t see at all.” And she said to him “What do you mean you can’t see?” And he responded “I mean I can’t see.” Next, she said to him, “What does that mean? Is it blurry? Is it fuzzy?” And he goes, “I told you, I can’t see at all. I could get knocked out.” At that point in time she asked “Is your vision improving? After a poke in the eye, your vision should be improving by now.” And Scott said his vision wasn’t improving at all and said “I can’t see.”
With those statements combined with the fact that it was pretty apparent that he had a broken foot from throwing a kick, I turned to Dr. Wulkan and asked what her medical opinion was and she said “He should not continue because he stated his vision was not improving and by now, from a poke in his vision should be improving and I’ve given him every opportunity for him to tell me something other than I can’t see at all. And he has a broken foot and should not continue.” And the decision was made.
Dr. Sherry Wulkan:
As a follow up, Drago [editor's note: Pete Sell] told me that Smith said he still was seeing double and triple 15-20 minutes after returning to the locker room. His corner was grateful we made the call we did.
Assuming that is what happened, then I can understand why they called the fight when they did. I was so angry at the time, because that fight really could have saved the show if it had continued on the way it was going. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. At least, we’ll get a rematch.
Gina Carano vs Kaitlin Young
The referee called over the doctor, I believe at the end of the second round, and Dr. Wulkan — Dr. Sherry Wulkan — who is a long-time MMA and kickboxing doctor, who trains herself, she felt there was a possibility of an orbital fracture. Of course, that could not be determined on the spot; there was no machine that could be used to examine the injury at that point. However, she was concerned about the laceration and the hematoma that was forming under Kaitlin’s eye, and she was concerned that it would affect her ability to see and the ability to protect herself and see punches coming from that side. I asked her if Kaitlin was medically able to continue and she said no.
Dr. Sherry Wulkan:
When we saw Kaitlin in the cage, we were concerned about an orbital fracture. Both she and her corner were grateful that the fight was stopped and actually thanked us for stopping the fight. When she first returned to the dressing room, she said she wasn’t sure why the fight was stopped, but after looking in the mirror, she was glad we did. That is almost a quote verbatim. She said she was overwhelmed and that Carano definitely got the better of her on this occasion.
We did not stop the fight because it looked ugly or because she was a woman, but because she had taken some major abuse, and because we were afraid she had a fracture. The risks of orbital fractures are well known to ringside physicians.
This would contradict what Kaitlin Young presumably (it has not been confirmed it was indeed her) posted on the fightergirls.net forums early yesterday morning. Regardless of who actually made the call to stop the fight, it was pretty obvious which way the fight was going at that point. It’s certainly possible Young could have came out in the third and caught Gina with something, but that’s highly unlikely considering the shape she was in after the second round.
Check out the full interviews at Fiveouncesofpain.com.