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Right call made in Gibson-Bedford

Referee Kerry Hatley came under fire for his stoppage in Cody Gibson's win at UFC Fight Night 44. Al Powers for ESPN

There was a bit of controversy during the UFC Fight Night 44 prelims Saturday in San Antonio. The fight in question was a bantamweight bout featuring Johnny Bedford and Cody Gibson.

Essentially, here's what happened: Bedford (19-11-1) was unloading on Gibson near the fence early in the first round when Gibson (12-4) landed a counter right-hand that sent Bedford sprawling backward.

Gibson pursued his knocked-down opponent and threw one follow-up right from his guard (a grazing shot). At that point, referee Kerry Hatley had already (sort of) stepped in to stop the bout.

Bedford, however, made a fairly miraculous recovery and was attempting to pull Gibson further into his guard. Once Hatley saw that, it appeared as if he wanted to let the fight continue, realized he had already stepped in and finally waved it off.

Bedford erupted. Twitter did the same. UFC president Dana White wrote in all caps: "I love when refs ruin fights!!!!!!!!!!!!!" (That's 13 exclamations. I counted them.)

The UFC on Fox Twitter handle posted a quick poll, asking whether the fight was A) fair, or B) "B.S." At last count, "B.S." was (as you'd expect) ahead 230 to 58.

The people have spoken, I guess, but was it a bad stoppage? The answer is no.

I'd wager every credible athletic commission in the country would be perfectly fine with the decision Hatley made Saturday. I also doubt he lost any sleep over it. If you break it down, it's actually a pretty easy call.

Bedford went limp. After absorbing the right hand, his body lurched forward at the waist and then whiplashed backward towards the canvas. His head ricocheted off the canvas rather violently.

From Hatley's perspective, Bedford would have looked unconscious. As the referee, Hatley's primary responsibility is to protect a defenseless athlete. In that moment, Bedford appeared to be exactly that.

A few outside variables added to the "controversy." Bedford was very unlucky in his previous fight, which was ruled a no-contest when he and Rani Yahya accidentally hit heads in the first round. Understandably, Bedford must feel a bit cheated.

Hatley has had a few gaffes in his day -- most notably his handling of a lightweight bout between K.J. Noons and Jorge Gurgel in August 2010, and a notoriously itchy trigger finger on standups. He has been an MMA referee since 2001.

In this particular case, though, Hatley did his job correctly. With the luxury of replay, yes, we could see that Bedford was starting the process of defending himself when the fight ended. In real time and at that point, Hatley had already made his move.

With that, here are the grades from last weekend's UFC Fight Nights in Auckland, New Zealand, and San Antonio. Oh, and by the way: Title shot for Cub Swanson.