It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Merab Dvalishvili won’t be getting his TKO loss to Ricky Simon scrubbed off the books. The Team Serra-Longo bantamweight looked to have a decision win clearly in hand at the UFC’s recent Fight Night event in Atlantic City, NJ, when referee Liam Kerrigan waved the bout off, after the final bell had sounded, declaring Simon the winner via TKO.
A last minute takedown at the end of the third round resulted in Dvalishvili spending the remainder of the fight stuck in a deep choke – his legs kicking and his face turning a vivid shade of purple. When the horn sounded and Simon released his grip, Dvalishvili’s body continued to twitch for a second or two, before flopping back to the mat, where he almost immediately attempted to sit up. In the eyes of the referee, and noted MMA official Marc Goddard (seated cageside) that was enough to declare that Dvalishvili had gone unconscious and had thus lost the bout.
On Wednesday, April 25, Dvalishvili’s manager Matthew Culley, of Battlescar Athlete Management LLC, filed a request to have the decision reviewed. Just two days later, Commissioner Larry Hazzard replied with a lengthy statement. The long and short of it was that Kerrigan’s decision would stand.
“The established written protocol for me to overturn a referee’s call; is, if in my discretion; the referee committed a self-evident and palpable error,” Hazzard wrote, before going on to describe the sequence of events that followed the end of the bout and led to the decision.
“We fully are aware of the disparity of the viewpoints of the declared outcome,” he continued. “This is true even after days of discussion by fans and media and countless video reviews. I can only state that Kerrigan was unwavering in his call, and that I believe him to be correct, or at least well within his discretion to make such a call. Despite the variety of opinions, we note that veteran referee Marc Goddard was cageside and agreed with the call. Furthermore, the most experienced referee in the sport’s history, John McCarthy (who watched offsite via television) felt that the outcome was just and proper.”
“In summary,” Hazzard wrote, after detailing the events following the in-cage announcement, “I do not find that Mr. Kerrigan committed a self-evident and palpable error; or even any error which comes close to that standard. Solely because a decision is disputed does not make such facially incorrect.”
Hazzard also noted that the commission does not require “multiple seconds of unconsciousness” in order to determine that a fighter has been rendered unable to continue. And, more particularly, he noted that the result should have been announced as a “TKO via technical submission,” however Hazzard believes that “Mr. Buffer, due to broadcast pressure, announced the decision simply as a TKO; and such was because he did not wait for the agency scorekeeper to conclude writing the announcer’s decision card.”
At least officially, that should lay the argument to rest. Merab Dvalishvili was defeated by Ricky Simon, on April 21st, in Atlantic City, via technical submission, at 5:00 of round 3. The unusual circumstances are likely to keep the fight as a point of debate and comparison to other, similar events in the future when they arise. But, as far as the record is concerned, Dvalishvili is going to end up stuck with the loss.
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