A risky knee, a referee’s call, a time-out, a stubborn doctor and, in summary, a series of unfortunate events combined to deliver Gegard Mousasi a wholly unsatisfying second round TKO victory over Chris Weidman last night in Buffalo, New York.
Nobody went home happy. Not Mousasi, the victor; certainly not Weidman, the man who felt most hard done by; not the officials, confused by a flashpoint and left exposed by the New York State Athletic Commission’s ruling on replays (replays are off-limits for officials); not the fans, those who paid good money to watch what was otherwise a fascinating crossroads fight at middleweight.
From Gegard Mousasi’s point of view, he did very little wrong. In round two, with Weidman in a crouch, one hand on the floor, the other hovering, the Dutchman landed a knee to the American’s head, after which Weidman dropped his other hand to the floor to remove the possibility of a repeat dose. Exploiting the rule, it was an intelligent move on Weidman’s part. It should have made Mousasi hesitate, think, call off the onslaught. It guaranteed protection, a momentary respite.
But Mousasi went one better. He hoisted Weidman ever-so-slightly, thus removing the former champion’s hands from the floor, and then, timed to perfection, reacquainted his knee with Weidman’s head, a shot perfectly legal yet one in the heat of the moment considered illegal in the view of both Weidman and, more importantly, referee Dan Miragliotta.
Time was called, Mousasi was admonished, Weidman was given five minutes to recover. All seemed to be in order.
Moments later, however, a series of replays told the truth; shown on the big screen, they revealed just how well-timed Mousasi’s knee had been and how ill-timed Miragliotta’s subsequent intervention had been.
All of a sudden the picture changed. Weidman was no longer hurt by illegal means but had instead been hurt and sent to the floor legally. What’s more, the doctors who had entered the Octagon and deemed a protesting Weidman unfit to continue, were now the ones responsible for the fight ending and Weidman heading home with a defeat as opposed to a disqualification win.
As the picture changed, so too did the faces. Weidman, once seemingly in control, carried a look of panic, one mimicked by Miragliotta, whereas Mousasi, once apologetic, now felt wronged to have been interrupted in his pursuit of a finish. The discomfort was palpable.
The result, meanwhile, after it was established Weidman couldn’t continue, was recorded as a Mousasi stoppage win three minutes and thirteen seconds into round number two.
Gegard, 41-6-2, never one for emotion at the best of the times, could do little but shrug at the end of it all. He said, “That’s not my fault. I wanted to continue. He can have his rematch, no problem. I think he could have continued but he was stalling. I apologise to Weidman – I like the guy.”
Weidman, on the other hand, a New Yorker currently prone to catching knees rather than breaks, appeared on the brink of tears when he said, “I think that was an illegal knee. Both my hands were 100% down.”
It was then Weidman, 13-3, coming to terms with his third straight defeat, was shown the replay and his face changed once again; gone was the look of indignation, replaced instead by a why-always-me? look of exasperation.
They needed replays in Buffalo. That much is certain. And now, as a consequence of not having that luxury, the fight itself needs a replay.
Other UFC 210 results:
Women’s strawweight: Cynthia Calvillo defeated Peal Gonzalez via submission in round three (3:45)
Welterweight: Thiago Alves defeated Patrick Côté via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Lightweight: Charles Oliveira defeated Will Brooks via submission in round one (2:30)
Featherweight: Myles Jury defeated Mike De La Torre via TKO in round one (3:30)
Welterweight: Kamaru Usman defeated Sean Strickland via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Featherweight: Shane Burgos defeated Charles Rosa via TKO in round three (1:59)
Light-Heavyweight: Patrick Cummings defeated Jan Blachowicz vis majority decision (29-8, 29-28, 28-28)
Lightweight: Gregor Gillespie defeated Andrew Holbrook via KO in round one (0:21)
Lightweight: Desmond Green defeated Josh Emmett via split-decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Women’s Bantamweight: Katlyn Chookagian defeated Irene Aldana via split-decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Flyweight: Magomed Bibulatov defeated Jenel Lausa via unanimous decision (29-26, 29-26, 29-26)