The UFC had one of their non-PPV “Fight Night” events on the weekend, featuring a fairly interesting main event of Kevin Lee vs. Edson Barboza. While that fight had some controversy of its own, when Lee missed weight by two pounds and then won anyway, the real talking point of the event came on the undercard.
A bantamweight bout between unranked fighters Ricky Simon and Merab Dvalishvili was a wild, back-and-forth affair. When all was said and done, it was awarded Fight of the Night (which comes with a nice pay bonus for each fighter). However, the finish of the fight itself, and who was awarded the victory, is the subject of much debate.
With over 45 seconds left in the bout, Simon caught Dvalishvili in a guillotine choke. As Dvalishvili struggled to stay conscious, he kept kicking his legs into the air. Perhaps he was trying to show the referee that he was still fighting and not choked out? Dvalishvili did not tap, and the horn sounded to signal the end of the final round.
Somehow he didn’t tap pic.twitter.com/tBk6I2db3u
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) April 22, 2018
Somehow, Simon was awarded a TKO win via referee stoppage after the horn. The ref judged that Dvalishvili was unconscious when Simon let go of the guillotine choke, even though the video clearly shows he wasn’t — he continued kicking his legs and even responds to Simon telling the ref he was out, telling them both that he’s okay.
Dvalishvili was exhausted after a grueling fight, but not choked out. The referee didn’t see it that way, though. After the fight, he proclaimed himself the real winner.
“When it was finished, I was just tired and stayed down,” he said. “I knew I had won. The doctors told me to stay down. I don’t know why they gave it to him. I feel I’m the winner. I didn’t lose this fight. I just want more fights. I want to stay busy.”
Turns out he was probably right, since he was ahead on the judges’ scorecards (28-29, 29-27, 29-28).
— Mark La Monica (@LaMonicaMark) April 22, 2018
Simon wasn’t backing after being awarded a speculative win.
“I got up, looked at his eyes, and he was gone,” Simon said after the fight. “I sunk in a deep choke and he was out. I stood over his body and he was limp. He was flailing and went limp.”
Dvalishvili will likely appeal the result to the New Jersey State Athletic Commission, but these things rarely get overturned. What’s more likely is that the UFC will book an immediate rematch, so the two can settle the disupte in the octagon.