The Mousasi – Weidman Fiasco

11 Apr , 2017,
Ked Becker

At UFC 210, the Mousasi-Weidman fight ended rather controversially, when it was ruled as a TKO win for Mousasi after an apparent mistake by referee Dan Miragliotta when he stopped the fight due to an illegal knee, in order to let Weidman recuperate.

The most important thing to remember here is that New York State Athletic Omission doesn’t allow the use of instant replay in order to determine what really happened, which means that the immediate referee decision is final.  There is no reason to change it later due to use of replays.

Doctors were let in to the Octagon to check on Weidman, while Miragliotta was notified, in direct violation of that New-York rule, that after checking the replays it was discovered that he had made a mistake and the knees were legal.  He then decided, in light of this new, forbidden information, that the fight must continue immediately. The doctors who were checking Weidman found meanwhile that he has trouble recollecting what day or month it is, and therefore decided he cannot continue. Since the Miragliotta decided that fight should continue immediately and it the doctors decided that Weidman was not fit to continue, it was declared a TKO win for Mousasi.

Now let’s look at what should have happened.

  1. Since replays are not allowed to be utilized for in New York, Miragliotta should never have been notified of his apparent mistake. Miragliotta decided that it was an illegal knee, giving Weidman 5 minute to recuperate, and that decision should not have been changed mid-way the 5 minute break.
  2. Weidman, then, should have been given 5 minute to recuperate from the illegal knee, and the fight shouldn’t have been stopped before those 5 minutes were over, unless the doctors would have felt that the situation was so critical that he should be taken to a hospital immediately, which they obviously didn’t.
  3. Since Weidman’s medical situation was caused by what was decided to be an illegal knee, if the doctors had decided at the end of the 5 minutes that Weidman can’t continue, the fight should have been declared a disqualification win for Weidman.
  4. Later on, Mousasi would have been able to appeal that decision, since the knees were actually legal, and then the fight result would have been changed to No Contest.

The only way that this fight should have been declared a TKO win for Mousasi is if Miragliotta would have stopped it knowing that the knees were legal. If he stopped it on the assumption that the knees were illegal the fight should have been ruled a No Contest at the very least, if not a DQ, as long as replays cannot be referred to.

So much for what should have happened according to the rules. Now let’s take a look at Weidman’s behavior. Weidman was obviously trying to use the rules for his advantage, which is exactly what the new rules regarding knees are trying to prevent. We all want fighters to try to fight and protect themselves at all times, and rules like the ones prohibiting knees and kicks to a downed opponent are intended to protect fighters who are in a situation where they can’t protect themselves, and those shots could have too brutal consequences. This was definitely not the situation with Weidman. He obviously could have protected himself with his hands, but decided to try to use the rules to prevent Mousasi from throwing the knees, or maybe even get him disqualified.

Sometimes when a foul is made but the fighter the fouled fighter doesn’t seem hurt, the referee wouldn’t stop the fight or penalize the offending fighter, but if a fighter is truly hurt by an illegal move there is a much higher chance that the referee would penalize the offending fighter even if the offence was exactly the same.  So, it is advantageous to fighters to appear hurt by illegal moves even when they are not, because this would raise the chances of the referee penalizing the other fighter. It’s definitely not beyond the realm of possibility that Weidman was acting more hurt than he actually was, because he knew this might give him an advantage score-wise. And so, the decision to stop the fight based on his medical condition might have been based on him acting trying to milk the perceived illegality of Mousasi’ strikes. It might also be that he was tired and he was trying to use this time to rest. Seeing how he stood up immediately when he heard the fight was stopped I tend to doubt how hurt he really was.

Taking all this into account it’s difficult to feel too bad for Weidman for how things turned out. The new rules regarding knees were made exactly to prevent Weidman’s behavior, but if the rules were followed correctly according to the no replays rule in New York, then Miragliotta’s mistake wouldn’t have been challenged and Weidman would have gotten away with this strategy, just like so many fighters have had in the past. I think there is a real possibility that this fight would be a benchmark fight, after which fighters would stop trying to put their hands on the ground when they are getting kneed at, and instead try to protect themselves like they should.


  1. oleg April 12, 2017 at 2:12 am Reply

    Changing the official result to a NC but treating Mousasi as the winner in terms of future matchmaking would probably be the best outcome for everyone involved.

    Weidman needs a step back from fighting elite competition. A matchup with a lower ranked fighter will either help him regain some confidence, or show that he’s clearly not one of the top guys in the division anymore.

    But if they didn’t change the outcome of Masvidal – Ellenberger, which IMO was as clear of a call for NC as any fight I’ve seen, they’re not likely to change this one either. Commission officials hate to admit they were wrong.

    This sport had come so far and still had a long way to go… In some ways it feels like things are devolving. With the recent rule changes that are in effect in some states but not yet in others, there’s not a truly unified rule set anymore and seems like no one involved has a clear understanding of what rules apply where, and how they should be enforced.

  2. Ked Becker April 12, 2017 at 1:07 am Reply

    If replays are legal in NY, it changes a lot obviously, but not everything. as Ray Longo, Chris Weidman’s coach said: “Whether the knee was legal or illegal is really irrelevant. Because the other thing that I think people are missing is [Weidman] didn’t go down when he got kneed. He would have kept fighting.”
    Miragliotta didn’t stop the fight because he thought Weidman was hurt, but because he thought the knees were illegal, so Mousasi still can’t get the TKO win.
    I don’t think the new definition of a “downed fighter” is useless. in this situation if the definition of a downed fighter was only having one hand on the ground Weidman would be considered a downed fighter. since the definition is that both hands should be on the ground Weidman was not considered a downed fighter. Miragliotta just made a mistake. it’s relatively easy to lift someone just enough to make them have to lift one day off the ground, but not both. anyway, I agree that knees and kicks to a standing opponent should be legal, whether his hands are on the ground or not.
    I can understand Weidman’s actions too, I would have done the same thing too, just as many fighters do. but we want to discourage fighters from acting this way. we want them to try and protect themselves, not put their hands on the ground while they are being kneed at. that’s the reason for the rule change.

  3. oleg April 11, 2017 at 11:44 pm Reply

    So apparently BJM did use instant replay, and all of this is legal in NY.

    Mark Ratner is ignorant, senile, or both, and UFC should stop using him as the in-house rules expert.

  4. oleg April 11, 2017 at 4:47 pm Reply

    I don’t think Weidman did anything wrong in the course of the fight, but by his actions during the whole confusing break, it did seem like he was begging for a DQ and “came alive” as soon as they said it was a legal strike. Then again, he probably really was at least mildly concussed.

    So many questions… did his hands come off the ground because Gegard lifted him up, or on his own free will? Or some combination of both?? Had an argument about this with a couple of friends while watching… really not clear which was the case.

    Did Miragliotta really use instant replay? The announcers made it sound like he definitely did, but I’ve read on a few sites that BJM was the cage-side official and was the one who told Dan that the strikes were legal. Did BJM see this in the replay or live? If BJM saw this live because he had a different point of view than Dan, does it make the whole instant replay point moot? What if BJM saw it from the camera man’s view on the big screen, would it make a difference whether it was live or replay? Are the any rules about the in-cage ref consulting with the cage-side ref?

  5. jcs April 11, 2017 at 4:31 pm Reply

    I can understand Weidman’s actions.. I seriously doubt he was trying to get Mousasi DQ’d… he was trying to discourage Mousasi from kneeing him in the head and was probably too gassed or hurt to reliably do something else. I’d have done the same thing.

    After thinking about it.. it seems that the “Downed fighter” definition used here is useless if the other fight can just lift them off the ground while kneeing them. Maybe a better prevention strategy would be to prevent knees to the head if the opponent is facing downward… wonder if that’s been used anywhere? Seems that if a guy is facing down by his own will.. that’s a pretty F’d up position to knee them in the head and if abused, the ref could consider that fighter as “hurt” and stop the fight..

  6. oleg April 11, 2017 at 3:31 pm Reply

    What a clusterfuck!

    This really makes me question the value of instant replay in MMA. Even if we allow it, it’s pretty much useless when thae damage is already done. In a ball-and-stick type sport, you can rule that a point scored didn’t count based on replay. In a combat sport, you can’t take away a concussion.

    It also makes it clear that the tweak to the “downed opponent” rule is completely meaningless and the rule can still be gamed just like before.

    The only answer is allow kicks/knees to the head of a downed opponent, period. Maybe ban soccer kicks and head stomps, but there is absolutely no reason for the legality of an up-kick from guard or a knee to the head to change based on whether the opponent has one hand touching the ground, both, or none.

    Also, can we please not have any major events in NY for a while? Let the commission practice for a couple of years with smaller local leagues…

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