What was supposed to be an important women’s bantamweight battle between Jessica-Rose Clark and Sarah Alpar during the preliminary card of Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas turned into bloody chaos when referee Chris Tognoni decided one brutal knockout wasn’t enough.
“I never waved the fight off,” Tognoni said before restarting a fight a few moments later that clearly should have already been waved off.
So after a few moments of chaos, the fight continued and Clark scored another finish on the bloodied Alpar, this one becoming official.
It was a big win for Clark, but an important night for the Nevada Athletic Commission to review so something similar never happens again.
— UFC (@ufc) September 19, 2020
Clark’s Knee Should Have Ended Fight But Didn’t
During the third round of the fight, Clark landed a knee to the chin of the slumping Alpar which would have been illegal had the felled fighter’s bottom hit the canvas before Clark’s knee cracked her chin.
Instead, Clark’s massive shot to her opponent’s chin landed just in time to be legal, so the down and out Alpar should have been ruled as having just suffered a TKO.
Inexplicably, the referee for the bout instead separated the two fighters so he could find out from the cageside officials if the blow was legal.
Once that was determined to be the case via instant replay, Tognoni told the fighters he never called the fight off and reset them to resume the action.
The problem, of course, is that according to the new hybrid rules operating in Nevada on Saturday night at UFC APEX, instant replay should only have been used for a “fight-ending sequence.’
Since the referee used it, the fight should have been over either way.
You can watch the wild sequence of events below.
"You were not down… I never waived the fight off."
— UFC (@ufc) September 19, 2020
After the restart in the third round, Clark turned her opponent into a bloody mess ultimately before going on to score the finish during the same round.
You can watch Clark’s second dominant finish below.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 19, 2020
What Happened at UFC Vegas 11?
It was brutal, bloody and seemed to be completely unnecessary based on what had already transpired in the fight.
If Clark’s knee was legal, the fight should have been over with her winning via TKO. Had it been determined to be illegal, Alpar should have been scored the winner via disqualification.
Either way, Alpar didn’t appear fit to continue the fight because she had just been knocked out, and everyone watching the fight seemed to know that except for Tognoni.
So Clark had to score what amounts to be two straight finishes in the third round over an opponent who took much more punishment than she was due.
“I think the ending was better this way anyway,” Clark said about the stop and start in the third round, but she was probably the only one who thinks that.
Referee’s Job Is Difficult But Important
Being a referee in the UFC is a difficult job. It requires making important decisions in real-time and it’s probably easier to pretend to make those decisions in real-time while watching from the comfort of one’s home or sitting cageside than it is to actually do the duty.
Still, referees like Tognoni need to get these types of decisions right every single time.
There’s simply too much at stake to ask for anything else.
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