by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
Three days after it took place, there’s hardly any visual evidence that a fight between Aaron Riley and Shane Nelson took place, but more than 17,000 fans took in what’s been called one of the worst stoppages in UFC history.
The fight’s controversial ending, and some of its aftermath, was seen during a Dana White video blog chronicling UFC 96. Watching the fight on a TV backstage, he blasted referee Rick Fike in front of a small video crew.
“That shouldn’t happen,” he said. “That (expletive) guy who just reffed the fight shouldn’t be in that Octagon. He has no business being there.”
At the event’s post-fight press conference, he voiced similar feelings.
“Those two kids have been in camp for six to eight weeks training,” he said. “They fly out here to fight and it gets stopped like that. Listen, people make mistakes all the time. That was a bad one.”
Riley, now on vacation in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., seemed to be in relatively good spirits when he spoke to MMAWeekly.com, but wanted another chance to prove himself.
“The UFC is looking to make things right, so hopefully I’ll get a rematch in with Shane at some point, but I’m just really looking to get back in action as soon as possible,” he said. “I’ve already expressed that to Joe Silva, and he’s looking to make that happen.
“He told me they were booked through August, but he also told me that if there was a chance to get me in, he’d try to get me in. If anything happens where somebody drops out or gets injured, he can look to juggle the schedule around and get me in.”
Among those wishing him sympathy last Saturday was a member of Nelson’s camp, who agreed the stoppage was premature.
“It was an inexperienced referee,” he continued. “Silva told me the guy was assigned to them by the Ohio State Athletic Commission; they had to use him. I don’t know what his experience level was – it couldn’t have been much. It seemed to me it was his first time out of the gates, personally.”
Though he’ll welcome any fight in the next months, he would prefer to rematch Nelson.
“There would be nothing I’d like to do more than finish that match-up with Shane,” he said. “It wouldn’t even be a rematch – it would be the original match, because that was such a non-event. I had a lot of family drive over to see that. Outside of that, I felt bad for the fans as a whole and the UFC.
“Everybody got cheated out of a great match-up.”