Heavyweight Roy Nelson knocked out Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 95 main card bout on Sept. 24. It was a much-needed win for “Big Country,” who had lost six of his previous eight fights. The win got the fan favorite back in the win column, but what he did following the fight overshadowed the knockout victory.
Nelson felt referee “Big” John McCarthy let the fight go on too long. As Silva was on his back on the canvas, and McCarthy was tending to him, Nelson gave McCarthy a kick to the backside. He then flipped off the referee while yelling expletive filled insults.
Nelson faced a maximum penalty of a 25-month suspension and $40,000 fine for his actions. He was ultimately given a nine-month suspension and roughly a $23,000 fine. Nelson issued a public apology to McCarthy on Dec. 2 in an attempt to get his sentence reduced further, but UFC president Dana White questions its motive.
“The ref is in there for your safety, to stop the fight, and whatever. You don’t ever, ever put your hands on the referee. Ever! Or your feet, or anything else,” White said while appearing on the UFC Unfiltered podcast.
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“Here’s the problem with the apology, right after the fight at the post-fight press conference, they asked him a question like, ‘why did you do that?’ He said something like, ‘I did it, but I’m not sorry I did it. I did it, and I’d do it again,’ or something like that,” White pointed out. “Coming back to apologize just so you can get a lighter sentence doesn’t really seem like an apology to me.”
Nelson’s not a member of the “Big” John McCarthy fan club. He’s openly criticized the veteran referee multiple times. But not liking a person doesn’t give you the right to assault them.
“He doesn’t like John McCarthy. Okay? Listen, my whole career with John McCarthy hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows either, but John McCarthy is one of the best to do it. He’s in there for your protection and everything else. And he’s not a fighter. You don’t put your hands on him, ever,” said the UFC president.
“There’s a difference between… When two guys that are professional athletes sign a contract to go in and fight one another for money, you’re a professional athlete. When you put your hands on anybody else other than that guy, it’s assault. It’s a crime. Whether it happens in the Octagon or wherever, it’s a crime,” said White.