There was a rather confusing outcome at Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 128 in Atlantic City, N.J., where a fighter was caught in a submission, did not tap out, time ran out, but then the referee declared the fighter in the submission the loser without going to the scorecards.
That was the sequence of events in the bout where Ricky Simon was determined the winner via TKO (Technical Submission) over Merab Dvalishvili.
It seemed to defy logic. If Dvalishvili survived to the final bell, why did the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board not go to the scorecards to determine the winner, which would have been Dvalishvili, as it turns out?
The official statement from Nick Lembo of the NJSACB was, “The referee did indicate that the fighter went out immediately after the bell. (A fighter) cannot be saved by the bell in any round, including the final round.”
Veteran referee Marc Goddard, who did not referee the fight, but who was working that night, has tried at length to explain what he deemed the proper outcome when referee Liam Kerrigan determined Simon was the winner.
“This is the point that everybody missed,” Goddard said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “This is the point that everybody doesn’t get and I’m not new to that as a referee. Liam, I see Liam walk off and then come back. And then out of camera shot, I saw him wave the fight off. I’m like, ‘Oh God, he’s waved the fight off.’ I was actually convinced as well without any replays, watching it live for the first time, I was semi-convinced in my mind that Merab was out.”
What confused most onlookers was that the referee did not call a halt to the fight before the bell or even immediately at the bell, and Dvalishvili was still bicycling his legs, as he had been in the waning moments of the fight.
“Forget the bicycling as well,” Goddard continued. “I’m telling you from my experience, he’s doing that as an involuntary motion. He doesn’t even know what he’s doing. And that’s why the guy is convinced that he won, because he poured it all out there. He left his heart and soul in the middle of that Octagon and I have nothing but respect for him. He wasn’t aware of the position he was in, because the beginning of the end was when he had that compression, hit himself in the top of the head and the guillotine was on from there for the last 54 seconds.”
(Video courtesy of UFC on FOX | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)
Goddard has taken some heat from fans and pundits that still feel that the fight should have gone to the scorecards, even though both he and legendary referee John McCarthy have publicly stated that it was the right call. He doesn’t know why Kerrigan isn’t making the rounds, defending his decision, but he doesn’t care either. At the end of the day, Goddard is dedicated to mixed martial arts, his craft, and seeing that the appropriate outcome is doled out.
“I don’t give a f— what they think or what they say,” Goddard said of his critics. “My children aside, mixed martial arts is such a pivotal part of my life. I’ve devoted a huge part of my life to this sport. To say I’m passionate about this game is a huge understatement. And when I’m involved in any capacity at an event, whether I’m a referee or outside, all I want is the right thing and the right determination to happen.”
And doubters be damned, Goddard, no matter how much time has passed and how many times he’s watched the video stands by his opinion that the correct decision is what occurred.
“You’ll see he’s still kicking his left leg in involuntary fashion. He’s out. He is out. And I will bet my ass to a barn door every day of the week and twice on a Sunday and I would testify everywhere else he’s out. It’s as clear as day.”
(Photo courtesy of Fox Sports)