UFC 207 got off to a wild start, as welterweights Alex Oliveira and Tim Means engaged in a very entertaining opening round, but the fight drew to a bizarre and disappointing early conclusion. With Oliveira down on one knee, Means twice hit him with knees to the head, which otherwise meant illegal strikes to the head of a downed opponent. Not only did Means believe that the strikes were legal, but UFC regulatory vice-president Marc Ratner suggested on-air that this otherwise illegal strike was, in fact, legal. Joe Rogan followed along with Ratner’s comments on the basis that Oliveira’s left knee was down, but his hands and his right foot were both off the ground. Means thought that three points of contact needed to be made for Oliveira to be considered grounded. Oliveira was unable to continue and was taken out of the cage on a stretcher.
Incredibly, referee Dan Miragliotta deemed Means’ knees as accidental, which resulted in a no-contest instead of a potential disqualification. This is a decision that will be appealed, as Oliveira’s coach Otavio Duarte told MMA Fighting.
“Everybody saw the knee was illegal. That’s unbelievable,” Duarte said. “We will appeal that. We want this victory. In the post-fight interview, he admits he thought it was a legal knee. If he says that, it was intentional. He contradicts the referee’s decision. That’s ridiculous.”
Rogan also erroneously stated that Means’ knees would’ve been legal under the new unified rules of MMA. Having one knee down, as Oliveira did, would still make him downed, whether or not his hands or feet are on the mat. That aspect of the grounded opponent rule did not change, so basically it was illegal on Friday and is still illegal today. Despite all of that, we were treated to complete confusion. Oh, and Ratner later said this … after the broadcast was over.
Marc Ratner just stopped by press row and said Tim Means’s knee was illegal as he sees it. Says the knee down made Oliveira down.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 31, 2016
Oliveira’s manager, Alex Davis, later told MMAjunkie that “this is wrong, and these things have to be straightened out.” Their team is open to a rematch with Means, and that they’d gladly do it on the UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Gastelum card in Fortaleza, Brazil on March 11th.
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