The preliminary card of UFC Fight Night 128 featured a bantamweight bout between UFC newcomer Ricky Simon and New York native Merad Dvalishvili. The fight was an all out brawl and both the fighters were granted their much deserved Fight of the Night Bonus. However that was not enough to describe the fight as the fight ended with a controversy. The fight went the distance however, Simon was declared the winner via technical submission.
Ricky Simon, being a former LFA bantamweight champion and on the basis of his last fight which was a first round TKO, came in with a lot of hype. However, Dvalishvili had plans of derailing this hype train. Dvalishvili earned a big knockdown in the first round and hurt Simon bad. Simon did gained composer, however Dvalishvili was getting better of the bantamweight prospect. Dvalishvili was cruising his way towards a decision victory until Simon locked in a tight guillotine choke. Dvalishvili clearly was in trouble as there was grimace of agony on his face and he kept peddling his feet looking to see off the round. At the end of the round, Dvalishvili looked unconscious and the New Jersey State Athletic Board had to give the victory to Simon. (via Twitter):
No surrender 😳
Merab Dvalishvili refuses to tap to Ricky Simon in the closing stages of their fight.
Look at him kicking his legs to remain semi-conscious 😮 pic.twitter.com/2uEcwYccuZ
— UFC: Barboza vs. Lee on BT Sport (@btsportufc) April 22, 2018
The decision led to disagreement between the MMA community. Even though he was not the referee, experienced referee Marc Goddard stepped in at Fox Sports 1 post-fight show to clear the confusion.
“I think it was pretty clear at the end of the fight, maybe even before, when the bell sounded, Dvalishvili … he was out,” Goddard said. “He was actually out. And in that instance, it’s like any other instance if you pick up a rear-naked choke or a guillotine. The fact that he drifts into unconsciousness was actually — it should be recorded as a submission, technical submission.”
Dvalishvili strongly opposed the decision claiming that he was never unconscious and was just tired.
“[Simon] took me down and I couldn’t move. I just waited because there was only a short amount of time left,” Dvalishvili said. “When it was finished, I was just tired and stayed down. 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.”
Goddard however thinks differently saying,
“There was a bit of confusion, it was loud, and I just wanted to make sure that they weren’t going to go to the scorecards, because that’s the way it looked like it was going to be heading,” Goddard explained. “But the referee Liam Kerrigan, to his credit, when he saw [Dvalishvili] was out, he actually waved it off. And I think there was a little bit of a rush, people thought we were going to try and read the scorecards, so I said, ‘No, no, no. The guy has lost the fight.’ Even though he came around pretty sharp afterwards, he most definitely lost the fight under the ruling and the right guy went away with the win.”