An exciting co-main event at UFC 210 went down in flames on Saturday over confusion regarding illegal knees. After the big 205 pound title fight between champ Daniel Cormier and Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, the match everyone was amped to see was Gegard Mousasi versus Chris Weidman. It was a classic pick’em fight between two of the toughest fighters in the UFC, and for a round and a half the two scrapped hard until Gegard hit Chris in the head with knees while Chris seemed to be grounded with both palms on the mat.
Referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the action and gave Weidman five minutes to recover. But during that time, replays showed Weidman’s hands lifting off the canvas when Mousasi’s knees landed, making the knees legal. But since New York doesn’t have instant replay, that shouldn’t matter: whatever the ref calls at the time is what should stand. But somehow Miragliotta switched his call, and all the officials seemed to panic. If the knees were legal, Weidman shouldn’t be getting any recovery time. Doctors in the cage asked Weidman what month it was, and waved the fight off when he answered February.
Weidman was obviously not impressed following the fight.
“Pretty much for the whole time he was telling me it was an illegal knee. So yeah, I thought I was going to win because of the illegal knee,” he said at the UFC 210 post event press conference. “And then they looked at the replay, he left the Octagon and went to the replay and said it was a legal knee. But in the state of New York, there’s no replays. So it’s a crappy situation.”
“It’s pretty cut and dry,” he said when asked if he’d appeal. “My coaches say they’re calling it a TKO. It’s not like he hit me with a knee and I was all wobbly and I fell over knocked out. I had my hands down, he stops it, tells me illegal knee, warns him. I sit down, and get told I have five minutes. Next thing I know they’re saying it’s a legal knee. I’ve been through way worse than that. If it was a legal knee I would have loved to keep fighting. It shouldn’t have been stopped. The ref, at the end of the day, was the one that made the judgement call and in the state of New York, his word is what counts. There’s no replay. You can’t go back to replay.”
“I would love a rematch,” Chris finished. “I would love to get three rounds in. I feel like I was on my way to winning that fight. And obviously, Gegard has to be pissed too. He doesn’t want to win like that. I would have been pissed if they stopped it and I won the fight. I would definitely do a rematch. So I want a rematch right away.”
But Gegard Mousasi seemed less interested in an immediate re-do.
“I have a lot of respect for Weidman, I don’t want to badmouth him,” Mousasi said. “But if you want to play smart and take advantage of the rules, that’s not my fault. I’m fighting. If you want to put your hands down so I cannot knee you or take them up? You’re fight. Don’t try to take advantage of the rules. I’m fighting, and at the end of the day it was legal. That’s what everyone is saying now. It was legal, I don’t make the rules. It was legal and I felt he didn’t want to continue, I think everyone saw that.”
“He didn’t want to continue, how is that my fault? I don’t give a f**k, I won. I like the guy, he’s a tough opponent. But at the end of the day he didn’t want to fight.”
There has been some debate amongst fans as to whether Chris was willing (or able) to continue after the knees. In his post fight comments, Weidman admits he was expecting to win via DQ over the illegal knees, but then said he would have been willing to continue if he knew the fight was being given to Mousasi. Does that imply he was milking the shots trying to get the fight stopped? Keep in mind this is us armchair experts taking the exact words surrounding a confusing event from a man who just got hit in the head multiple times.
It’s all just a giant mess. By the rulebook, Weidman should have won since there’s no instant replay in New York. By the spirit of the rules, he tried to game the grounded opponent rules and paid the price. In a perfect world, they would have just restarted the bout and let the two cage fighters settle things themselves. But that’s all moot at this point. The best we can ask for now is for the whole thing to be determined a No Contest and for a rematch to be set up as soon as possible.