What Is A Doctor Stoppage? 7 Great Examples in Boxing & MMA

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what is a doctor stoppage.

What is a doctor stoppage? It’s a situation where a ringside physician stops a fight to prevent one of the fighters from sustaining further damage.

It is typically done when a freak accident happens or when a fighter and corner are arguably ‘too tough for their own good’. 

What is a ringside physician?

A ringside physician (or a cageside doctor in MMA) is an individual who provides medical care to fighters during a boxing match or other combat sports event.

The ringside physician monitors the fighter’s condition and may stop the fight in cases of injury or fatigue that would otherwise lead to serious injury. 

How is a Doctors Stoppage determined?

A doctor examines the fighter usually between rounds, although there are times when a referee calls the doctor in to examine mid way through the round.

The injury may be as minor as a cut, or as serious as a broken bone. A fighter may also be stopped from continuing if they are concussed or injured in the head.

The severity of the injury determines how long the fighter will have to sit out, and how much time they will need to recover before they can fight again.

Is a Doctors Stoppage the same a TKO?

A technical knockout is where the referee stops a fight to save the losing fighter from taking any more damage – typically from strikes.

A doctor stoppage is when a referee or doctor stops a fight because a fighter is too injured to continue and needs medical attention. This is typically referred to as a ‘TKO via doctors stoppage’.

Below we’ll give some famous examples of doctors stoppages in both boxing and UFC.

What is a Doctor stoppage in Boxing?

The safety of the fighters is the primary concern of the ringside or cageside doctor. If the doctor deems a fighter unfit to continue, he or she will stop the fight and declare it over no matter the verbal onslaught that will likely ensue.

The rules of stoppage in boxing are not as clear as in other sports such as tennis or football. In these sports, there are specific rules that can be applied to stop a game.

But in boxing, there is no set rule that would apply to all cases. The referee and doctor have the final say on whether a fighter should be allowed to continue or not.

And as a result there have been some controversial doctor stoppages.

Doctor Stoppages in Boxing Fights

A boxing match ending in a doctors stoppage is almost always due to a big cut. 

De La Hoya vs Chavez Sr. I

Julio César Chávez Sr. and Oscar De La Hoya faced off for the WBC super lightweight championship in 1996.

In the first round, De La Hoya opened up a big gash around Chavez’s eye. As the fight went on, it became increasingly one-sided with Chavez continuing to take damage until his eyes and nose were bleeding profusely.

In the fourth round, the lacerations around Chavez’s eye were deemed too dangerous for him to continue by the ringside doctor, and the fight was called off via TKO. 

Vitaly Klitschko vs Lennox Lewis

The fight between Vitaly Klitschko and Lennox Lewis was an interesting showdown. Both men were heavyweight champion boxers and unquestionably smart. 

And so when they ended up fighting each other it was billed Battle of the Titans and was shaping up to be one of the classic fights. 

The way the fight actually went down is very controversial. Klitschko was doing quite well in the fight and winning on many of the scorecards. However Lewis had opened up a big cut above Klitschko’s left eye that only got worse as the fight progressed. 

Eventually the fight was called off via doctors recommendation between rounds 6 and 7. 

What is a Doctor stoppage in UFC?

There is no specific rule in place that dictates when a fight must be stopped by the doctor. Many different factors that go into the decision to stop the fight.

According to general MMA rules, the doctor and referee who are in charge of overseeing the fight and keeping it safe, will make the call when they see fit.

Some of the factors that can cause a fight to be stopped include: if there is blood flowing from an open wound. An example is a big cut above the eye affecting the fighters ability to see. 

Broken bones can also cause it. Fighters will typically fight through a broken thumb or even broken orbital. But a broken leg or arm is usually too much to continue. 

Doctor Stoppages in UFC Fights

Considering all the variables involved in MMA, a UFC fight can end in doctor stoppage for any number of reasons. And there has been quite a few.

Nate Diaz vs Jorge Masvidal

The UFC 244 Diaz-Masvidal BMF title fight at Madison Square Garden ended in a doctors stoppage. The title fight was unique for the promotion as the title was not for any particular weight class but made for those 2 men. 

The fight was stopped at the end of round 3 though due to cuts around Diaz’s right eye.  

Tony Ferguson vs Anthony Pettis & Donald Cerrone

Tony Ferguson is a very special man. In many of his octagon outings he has had some absolute wars only to emerge victorious.

[Although in one of his losses you could certainly argue his fight with Justin Gaethje should have ended in a doctors stoppage.]

One of the best examples of his success though was his co-main event fight at UFC 229 with former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.

Tony underwent knee surgery less than a year prior and had done all rehabilitation himself. 

It truly was an excellent fight which you can see yourself below. Both men fought their heart out but spoiler alert: the cageside doctor stopped the fight between rounds 2 and 3 because Anthony Pettis had broken his arm in the chaos. 

Tony also caused another doctors stoppage versus Donald Cerrone. Another entertaining fight between 2 legends of the sport. 

The fight was called off and deemed a TKO on doctors stoppage at the end of the second. Cerrone’s right eye had swollen shut after trying to clear out his broken nose. 

It’s just a shame we never got to see Tony fight against Russian UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier

One of the biggest fights of 2021 ended in a doctors stoppage at the end of the first round after Conor McGregor’s leg broke. 

The Irish fighter and former Lightweight and Featherweight champion yelled for the fight to be deemed a doctors stoppage. 

Then there was a bizarre post fight talk with Joe Rogan and the rest is history. 

Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega

Longtime featherweight champion Max Holloway put on a career defining performance against then undefeated Brian Ortega when they faced off at UFC 231. 

Max so thoroughly dominated the striking that a doctor had to call the fight off after looking at Ortega’s face. In the end he had suffered a broken nose and broken thumb.

And the judges responsible for the UFC scoring had Max up 40-35, 40-35, 40-34 on all 3 of the scorecards going into the 5th and final round.

Jon Jones vs Thiago Santos

In a great example of toughness, Thiago Santos went 5 rounds against most likely the greatest fighter of all time (and arguably one of the dirtiest UFC fighters) Jon Jones, with torn ligaments across both knees. 

This wasn’t exactly a doctors stoppage but is a prime example of one that arguably should have been, considering he tore them in the first round. And then went the complete fight compromised and arguably won. 

What is a Doctor Stoppage Summed Up

There you have it folks. A doctor stoppage is when a medical doctor hired to be ringside or cageside saves a fighter from taking further damage and potentially seriously injuring themselves.

Thanks for reading!

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