Keith Kizer Explains Why Throwing In The Towel Is a Foul for NSAC
“It’s still something that we want to have as a foul,” Nevada State Athletic Commission Athletic Director, Keith Kizer, explained about throwing in the towel, “because it could be a situation where somebody does it in such a way that distracts the fighters, a fighter could get hurt. One fighter sees the towel go in, and he’s watching it, and he gets hit in the face.”
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
It’s the old adage taken from boxing that has become synonymous with not only ending a fight, but with quitting in general. The act of ‘throwing in the towel’ has ingrained itself into the modern vernacular just as football’s ‘Hail Mary’ play has come to signify an act of desperation.
But, as it turns out, throwing in a towel during a fight is actually a foul – at least according to some athletic commissions who oversee fights like the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
NSAC Athletic Director Keith Kizer spoke recently about the rule, as many fans called upon the corner of Junior dos Santos to ‘throw in the towel’ before the end of his most recent fight against Cain Velasquez at UFC 166. Dos Santos would go on to lose in the fifth round via TKO, though many believed it could have been stopped much sooner.
As it turns out, according to the rules, it’s for the better that dos Santos’ corner did not throw in the towel.
According to Kizer, “It’s still something that [NSAC] wants to have as a foul, because it could be a situation where somebody does it in such a way that distracts the fighters, a fighter could get hurt [by a corner throwing in a towel]. One fighter sees the towel go in, and he’s watching it, and he gets hit in the face.”
The towel itself can also present a danger if it is thrown too close to the fighters, as it could cause one to slip. And, according to Kizer, another reason for the rule is to avoid confusion if a “knucklehead fan” near the cage decided to throw a towel into the cage. Essentially, a towel being thrown in the cage, regardless of by whom, would break the action in the cage; and that has the potential of drastically changing the outcome of the fight
These are all unlikely scenarios, sure, but then again, so is a fighter’s coach deciding to end the fight. Governing bodies like the Nevada State Athletic Commission strive to protect all parties inside the cage, and their rules reflect that goal.
Instead of throwing a towel into the cage, which can be said to cause a potential hazard to fighters, Kizer said, “we let the cornermen to let the inspector know. The cornerman and inspector walk up the steps [to the cage], the other inspector will see that, and he’ll walk up to the top of the steps on the other side just in case the referee’s back is turned to the losing fighter’s corner. The inspector will then wave, and the referee will know why that is.”
Kizer said that this is explained to cornermen prior to fights by the official inspector who accompanies the fighter and his team from the locker room to the cage.
As far as how the ‘foul’ is enforced if a cornerman does throw a towel into the cage, Kizer said that the Nevada State Athletic Commission will most likely issue counseling/education for the party in question. However, Kizer said further action can be taken “if he does it in such an aggressive way that it does some kind of injury, which I have never seen, but it could [happen]. I’ve heard stories from other jurisdictions where a cornerman throws in the towel, one of the fighters steps on it, and gets hurt or again a fighter gets distracted by it and gets hit in the head, that might be a more serious issue.”
Ultimately, the role of the cornerman is no different from the role of the commissions who oversee the fights: keep the fighters safe.
“While we do appreciate cornermen wanting to stop the fight,” Kizer concluded, “we want them to do it in a safe way, and that’s why the towel thing is in the rules.”