5 UFC title bouts that should've been stopped for the good of a fighter's health

Marlon Vera should not have been allowed to go the distance with Sean O
Marlon Vera should not have been allowed to go the distance with Sean O'Malley in their title bout

In the world of the UFC, durability can be a major factor in how much success a fighter can find. At times, though, some fighters are too tough for their own good.

Over the years we've seen numerous examples of UFC title fights that went far deeper than they probably should've, and in hindsight, probably should've been stopped for the good of a fighter's health.

At the time, of course, the fighter in question would probably have been livid had their fight been halted. Years later, though, they may not feel the same way.

Here are five UFC title bouts that should've been stopped for the good of a fighter's health.

#5. Rich Franklin vs. David Loiseau - UFC 58


Back in 2005, David Loiseau established himself as one of the most feared middleweights in the UFC thanks primarily due to his deadly elbow attacks.

He used his famed weapon to smash through former titleholder Evan Tanner that October, and that was enough to net him a title shot against kingpin Rich Franklin.

Many fans figured 'The Crow' had a good chance of winning the title thanks to his elbows, but unfortunately for the Canadian star, that wasn't the case.

Despite knocking Franklin down in the third round, Loiseau took a horrendous beating in the five-round clash. He was dropped in the first round and again in the second, and at points, even appeared to run away from 'Ace'.

By the final two rounds, Franklin - sporting a broken hand from the number of times he'd hit his challenger - simply dominated Loiseau with his wrestling, throwing him around with multiple suplexes.

'The Crow' lasted the distance, but both of his eyes were swollen shut by the time the fight ended, and his career took a major downswing afterwards as he never won another fight in the octagon.

Realistically, had the fight been stopped in a dangerously one-sided second round, the Canadian likely would've been better off overall.

#4. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos - UFC 166


This entry comes with a caveat of sorts. Cain Velasquez's trilogy fight with Junior Dos Santos at UFC 166 was stopped eventually, but only late in the fifth round.

Realistically, Dos Santos was done long before that, and the beating he suffered meant that he was basically never the same again.

The first clash between the two titans had seen 'JDS' claim the heavyweight title from his rival with a first round KO, while the second saw Velasquez beat him down over five rounds to reclaim it.

Dos Santos looked to repeat the trick early in this third bout, stunning Velasquez with a left hand in the opening seconds, but the champ recovered. The Brazilian would see no further success in the fight.

Instead, he found himself bullied around the octagon by both the striking and wrestling of Velasquez, who hit 'JDS' so many times that his face began to resemble Frankenstein's monster.

A particularly nasty third round saw Dos Santos knocked down twice and seemingly knocked unconscious at one point, but for reasons that remain unknown, referee Herb Dean did not stop the fight.

Instead, he allowed the beating to continue for another ten minutes before finally stepping in with two minutes to go when 'JDS' effectively collapsed.

Had the bout been stopped in the third, Dos Santos' career may well not have gone on the downward spiral that it did. As it was, his durability was completely shot after this beating, and he ended up suffering six more nasty KO losses before departing the UFC in 2020.

#3. Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick - UFC 129


Mark Hominick's gutsy performance in his featherweight title bout with champion Jose Aldo at UFC 129 has often been compared to a real-life Rocky movie, primarily because the fight ended with 'The Machine' winning the final round.

However, in hindsight, it's hard not to suggest that the fight should've been stopped long before that point, and if that had been the case, Hominick's future would've been very different.

Fighting in his hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Hominick was always a big underdog against Aldo, who was fresh from the WEC and ready to make his first foray into the octagon.

Early on, it was obvious why this was the case. Aldo continually beat 'The Machine' to the punch, hurting him with numerous strikes, and in the third round, Hominick was lucky to avoid a stoppage after suffering a knockdown.

The fourth round was worse for him, though. Aldo brutalized Hominick's lead leg with kicks, and his punches took their toll to the point that 'The Machine' had a scary-looking swelling on his forehead.

The deformity to his cranium should probably have been enough to stop the bout, but instead, Hominick was allowed to continue and ended up taking the fifth round over a tired Aldo.

Unfortunately, the performance clearly took its toll on the Canadian. His next fight saw him stopped in just seven seconds by Chan Sung Jung, and he followed that with two more losses before he retired in 2012.

Whether his career would've lasted longer without taking so much damage from Aldo is a fair question, but it's not hard to believe he would've been better off without it.

#2. Georges St-Pierre vs. Jon Fitch - UFC 87


In all three of the previous entries here, the fighter on the wrong end of a beatdown ended up suffering a slide in their career afterwards.

The same cannot be said for Jon Fitch. The welterweight contender was absolutely destroyed by Georges St-Pierre in his title challenge in 2008, in a bout that should absolutely have not gone the distance.

Remarkably, though, Fitch showed no real ill effects of the loss and actually put together a six-fight unbeaten streak afterward.

Make no mistake, though, the beating he suffered at UFC 87 was a truly disturbing one. Showing more aggression than he was often given credit for, 'GSP' came out looking to hurt Fitch, and did just that.

He dropped his challenger badly in the first round and almost put him away with some nasty follow-up strikes, and in the third round, knocked his mouthpiece out with a punch and dropped him with a head kick.

Fitch was left battered and bloodied after the stanza, and how the referee didn't stop things at that stage was a mystery. Somehow, the challenger survived to the final buzzer, but was met with a lopsided scorecard of 50-43, 50-43 and 50-44 in favour of 'GSP'.

As was previously stated, Fitch thankfully recovered well, but this was still a potentially career-altering beatdown that should definitely have been stopped for the good of his health.

#1. Sean O'Malley vs. Marlon Vera - UFC 299


The most recent entry onto this list saw Marlon Vera take an absolutely criminal beating at the hands of bantamweight champion Sean O'Malley in their title bout at UFC 299 earlier this year.

'Chito' has not fought since and at the time of writing, does not have a return bout booked. However, it would not be a shock to see his career take a nosedive after he absorbed an inhuman amount of damage from 'Sugar'.

The fight was a rematch of an earlier, semi-controversial bout between the two that saw O'Malley stopped by strikes after he suffered a leg injury.

'Sugar' always blamed that injury for the loss, and was determined to prove that he was the better man in their return fight. When things were over, it was hard to disagree with that idea.

O'Malley's striking was simply too accurate, too smooth and too powerful for the Ecuadorian fighter to handle. 'Sugar' teed off on him, seemingly at will, throughout the fight, and how Vera remained on his feet for the most part was baffling.

In the end, the fight saw O'Malley end with a ridiculous +141 significant strike differential, as he scored 230 in total, leaving 'Chito' a bloodied and battered mess.

Could the fight have been stopped? While O'Malley never actually put Vera down at any point, the referee could easily have called the bout based on cumulative damage for the Ecuadorian. Had he done so, it probably would've been better for his health.

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