Dan Hardy Questions Cedric Doumbe’s Focus Following Unusual Splinter Loss

PFL commentator Dan Hardy has questioned whether Cédric Doumbé could have continued his fight despite a splinter in his foot, which led to his first MMA career loss, and believes Doumbé needs an impressive performance in his next fight to regain his momentum.

Dan Hardy’s got some thoughts about Cédric Doumbé. He’s been mulling over whether Doumbé’s recent splinter incident might’ve split fans’ opinions on the PFL star.

Doumbé’s first MMA loss happened in March. A small piece of debris lodged in his foot and he couldn’t continue. His opponent, Baysangur Chamsoudinov, won by TKO. The crowd in Paris wasn’t too pleased about it.

Hardy, who’s a PFL commentator and heads fighter operations for the league’s Europe branch, had a few things to say. He spoke on The MMA Hour about the weird ending. He wondered if Doumbé could’ve toughed it out.

“It’s complicated,” Hardy admitted. “There are things we can’t discuss on air. I don’t want to be that guy. But I can say, Cédric was checked backstage. We didn’t do cageside checks. That was the local commission’s call. I didn’t like it. I don’t want fighters in the cage without cageside checks. I’m pushing for change. But Cédric walked out barefoot. That floor wasn’t fit for bare feet. He was walking where the public was walking with shoes.”

“But, I’ve had a splinter in my toe during sparring. I laughed it off, saying ‘I’ve Doumbé’d myself,’ and we carried on. It’s a splinter. I relocated my thumb when I fought Anthony Johnson because I dislocated it. To be so tuned in to such minimal pain, you’re not focused on the fight. I wonder where else his head was. You’ve got to be present when you’re fighting someone like ‘Baki.’ It’s a sold-out arena, everyone was there to watch that fight, it was a very high-stakes fight. I would have fought through anything to stay in there. Anything.”

“You could’ve broken both my arms before the first round, I would’ve still tried to kick you in the head. This was the point I made at the press conference. We’ve seen fighters standing, doing interviews with Joe Rogan with dislocated toes. Like, Jon Jones had his toe relocated during the interview. I don’t know.”

After the incident, Doumbé wasn’t happy with referee Marc Goddard. He said, “I don’t like that guy anymore” and he’d ask for a different official if Goddard is assigned to his future bouts.

Hardy acknowledged refereeing such a unique situation is tough. Doumbé stopped the action himself to show Goddard his injury. The fight was called off when Goddard decided Doumbé wasn’t engaging with Chamsoudinov anymore.

“It was frustrating and disappointing,” Hardy said. “I’ve talked to everyone involved, including all the officials. I feel like there was a communication breakdown. It could’ve been stated better that you can’t call a halt to the fight. I’ve talked to Marc about it. Marc is — in my mind, he is the best referee in the game. It’s a tough job, but as a referee, you have to protect yourself. He got a lot of heat for it, which I don’t think he deserved.”

“He had a fighter who turned to him two or three times and expressed pain. As an official, if you tell me you’re in pain, I have to stop the fight. It was disappointing because we all wanted to see a culmination, but I don’t think we would have had a conclusion after three rounds anyway. I felt like that needed five rounds. It needed a rematch. I still want to see the rematch now.”

Doumbé’s next fight is on May 17 in France at a Bellator Champions Series event. He’s up against 21-fight veteran Jaleel Willis. Hardy thinks Doumbé needs to impress to regain his hype and set up a potential buzz-worthy end to his 2024 campaign.

“That’s going to be a really interesting fight for him, because Jaleel, he’s a longtime veteran of the game,” Hardy said. “What is he, 16-5? He has a lot decisions where he’s able to control and drown people out, and that’s going to be a real tough test for Doumbé, someone that’s got that much experience in MMA. But I feel like this is going to be lingering in the back of his head and the back of some of the fans’ heads — that ‘Baki’ rematch needs to happen.”

“I think it makes sense to put it on again,” Hardy continued. “I think we can go into a much, much bigger arena with it as well. Doumbé’s a special star. … There is something very special about Cédric Doumbé. I think he lost a little momentum in that, but I think he can get it back on May 17 at Bellator. There are also lots of other conversations around who Doumbé is going to be fighting before the end of the year and lots of familiar names are being thrown around, so I think they’re planning on stepping him up very, very quickly if he’s successful on May 17.”


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