UFC referee Mark Smith recently made an appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience and throughout the hours he spent on the world’s most popular podcast they went through a number of topics, including when he believes you should stop a submission. It’s quite a contentious topic really because there are plenty of fighters out there who would rather go out on their shield and risk breaking a limb or getting put to sleep instead of tapping out. Whether that’s the smartest choice when you’re right in the middle of your athletic prime and your main source of income is a combat sports career is another thing entirely of course.
Chokes are one thing, because the moment to stop the fight is rather obvious there. As Smith points out, once a fighter loses consciousness they are unable to defend themselves and the fight must be stopped for their own safety. The side of the argument that generates the most debate is joint locks however, because it is technically possible for a fighter with a broken limb to defend themselves and there have in fact been several fights throughout MMA history where a fighter has gone on to win despite suffering an injury at some point during the match.
For referee Mark Smith, the moment to stop a professional UFC fight would be when a submission causes a break, separation, or dislocation. This might not be readily apparent in all cases but some o the more high-profile examples have been immediately obvious, like Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza suffering a broken arm during his final fight against Andre Muniz. As he points out though, professional fighters get more leeway than the amateur scene and there a referee might intervene earlier in order to prevent the fighter from suffering injury in the first place.