John Hackleman wanted to stop the fight between his longtime student Glover Teixeira and Jamahal Hill after the fourth round of UFC 283’s headliner. Were he the chief corner, referee Marc Goddard would have listened to him and waved off the action in favor of Hill.
“I’m a known fight-stopper in between rounds,” Hackleman told MMA Fighting. Hackleman said that he is known to be a good stopper, sometimes a bit too often. But I thought this was a good time to stop it. I got outvoted in corner .”
Hackleman is the founder of The Pit Hawaiian Kenpo Karate Academy and the coach of Chuck Liddell. He said that he was not in Brazil to provide moral support for Teixeira. Although he has five decades’ experience in the arena, he hates the idea of cornering fighters. He doesn’t like the hassle of traveling, nerves and the decision-making. But six months earlier, he said Teixeira had made a special request: one last fight.
” Win or lose, he’d have [retired],” Hackleman stated. “He’s ready. He has done enough. He has done enough.
UFC commentators pointed out Hackleman’s request during rounds. This added gravity to an already brutal fight on a night when Lauren Murphy had absorbed 161 substantial strikes to her head three bouts prior, nearly double the opponent Jessica Andrade.
It was unusual in an sport that corners tend to be the last to act. Hackleman found it nothing extraordinary. In 2006, he threw in the towel at the first big punch Cesar Gracie took against Frank Shamrock. He said he once stopped a fight when he was in the audience.
“I just don’t like to see guys get any kind of beatings or brain damage,” Hackleman said. Hackleman said, “I just really quick on the gun .”
At UFC 283, it turned out that not stopping the fight was the right call. Teixeira almost immediately took the action to the canvas, where he was expected to take Hill all along, and aside from a short pass of standup striking, the final round of the championship fight was far less damaging than the first four. He didn’t win, but he wasn’t further brutalized.
” I’m grateful they didn’t [stop it],” Hackleman stated. “I know this wouldn’t have gone well with anyone. This would have caused a lot people to be unhappy and it wouldn’t have been about me. I would have thrown it in after the third. I would have been completely happy with the fight stopping there. I saw no reason for it to go on after that.”
Hackleman understands the motivations to not intervene when fighters are taking unnecessary damage. A career is only as good as the title at stake. He doesn’t regret his decision in the moment. He’s thankful Goddard took the consensus vote in Teixeira’s corner. But he estimates he would have done the same thing again.
” When my fighters are fighting, I cannot put myself in their shoes,” Hackelman stated. “I wish my trainers would have stopped a couple of fights earlier. They never stopped fights back in the day, especially boxing. I love these guys. … It’s not good for them .”
Hackleman says he cannot stop fighting, even though it is in the best interests of his fighters. After the referee realized that the opponent was a kickboxing instructor from his hometown, the guy he had hoped to save ended up beating him.
“I’m sure I’ve taken away a lot of potential wins,” he said. Imagine if [Jiri Prochazka’s] corner quit in the middle round [against Teixeira]?”
At UFC 275, Teixeira had just won his title defense against Prochazka, before the former champ changed the game in dramatic fashion. Had the fight been called off, Prochazka wouldn’t have cinched an incredible fifth-round submission.
That fight, and a series of unfortunate events that denied the world Prochazka vs. Teixeira 2, set in motion a chain of events that put Teixeira in front of Hill at UFC 283. There would be no last-minute comeback for Teixeira, only five more minutes of survival. Hill was a 2019 Contest Series signee and won the vacant title of light heavyweight via decision, his biggest victory.
Hackleman believed the outcome was best with a bit of hindsight. Teixeira was able to finish the fight in pursuit of his goal to become the UFC’s light heavyweight champion 43. Teixeira said that he has now left the sport, with all his financial arrangements in place and his facilities intact. The next morning, the veteran fighter was in good spirits despite a mangled face.
“He smiles, telling everybody he is fine even though it was obvious,” Hackleman stated. “[He said], ‘I’m so good right now. It’s a joy! I love this!’ But he was saying it with a little less. … His mouth wasn’t moving as much, that’s for sure.”
As Teixeira was out fighting, Hackleman would step down from his cageside chair. He will train future fighters, but he plans on having a little ceremony at The Pit soon. He will lay his striking mitts on the center of the mat to signify the next phase of his martial arts journey.
“That’s my last cornering,” he said. “I’m never going to work a corner again.”