UFC 211’s featured television prelim was an anticipated lightweight bout between former champion Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier. The two fought a close first round, but Poirier hurt Alvarez badly midway through the second frame.
Alvarez was rocked badly by a Poirier uppercut and high kick, but Alvarez was able to recover and put Poirier in a compromising position against the cage. Alvarez had a hold of Poirier while Poirier was bent over with one hand on the mat. Alvarez delivered two knees straight to the head. Poirier popped up momentarily from the impact of the blow and then collapsed to one knee at which point Alvarez threw another knee to the head that sent Poirier crumbling to the mat and the fight was stopped.
After some confusion, referee Herb Dean declared the bout a no contest, declaring that the knees delivered by Alvarez were unintentional. This marks the second consecutive pay-per-view where knees to a grounded opponent lead to a controversial finish.
Just last month at UFC 210, Gegard Mousasi won a TKO over Chris Weidman thanks to some knees, but only after much discussion between the referee, the fighters, cage side referees, and consultation with the replay. The initial knees from Alvarez would have been legal under the new unified rules, but UFC 211 took place in Texas, where the rules have yet to be adopted. The final knee would have been illegal by either standard.
Poirier was not upset with Alvarez immediately after the fight, urging fans not to boo him or the decision, but Poirier has decided to appeal the decision with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TLDR) according to Ariel Helwani at MMA Fighting.
Alvarez’s take on the sequence lines up with Herb Dean’s ruling. “The first knee, I thought he was playing the game where he had his hand down,” Alvarez said after the fight. “Herb was very clear about you can’t play the game, so I hurt him with the first one, I think the second one may have been legal, but the third knee was illegal. I saw it on the prompter afterwards that it was illegal and I apologize to Dustin.”
If Poirier’s appeal is successful, the result would be changed to a disqualification win for Poirier which could mean he would be entitled to further compensation from UFC.
Regardless of the outcome of this appeal. MMA is in deep need of consistency across commissions.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: I don’t understand how Alvarez’s intent should play a factor in the decision. The intent is rarely taken into account in determining infractions in any sport because it is so subjective. In hockey, if you hit another player in the face with your stick, that’s a high-sticking penalty. You didn’t mean to do it? Too bad, it’s still two minutes. I’m sure you can find dozens of examples of infractions in sports where a player will be penalized for something that is completely unintentional. It’s the only way to ensure fair competition and it takes the guesswork out of it for officials.
What happened on Saturday is actually right out of a pro wrestling bad guy’s playbook. Alvarez was in big trouble so he did something blatantly against the rules and he gets to walk away without taking an official loss. I don’t think that’s what Alvarez was thinking, but Herb Dean’s ruling leaves the door open for fighters who are in danger of losing to break the rules and get out of the fight with a no contest instead of a loss.
Another thing that caught my attention from this was how Herb Dean went to speak to UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner before the decision was made official. Dean explained to Ratner that he felt the knees were unintentional and he was ruling the fight a no contest, Dean ended the exchange with, “Sound good?” This is troubling as a referee should be making decisions independently of the promotion; the promotion’s opinion on what he is about to rule should be irrelevant. I hope that Dean made the call because he truly thought it was the right decision and not because he felt it was what the promoter would prefer.
MONDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
–Dana White told ESPN that he has reached a deal with Conor McGregor for a fight with Floyd Mayweather. Now it’s time to get Mayweather on board.
-Anthony Johnson appeared on WWE announcer Booker T’s podcast and hinted that he could be getting into the marijuana business. “We’re opening up a facility, if you know what I mean,” Johnson said (via MMA Fighting). “It’s for medical uses. … We got some good things going on. It’s already big. We’re just waiting for that law to pass and, whenever it passes, we’re golden. We’re playing our cards right, we’re playing by the book, so that way there’s no issue.”
-UFC announced an August 5 show from Mexico City. It will be a Fight Night card; no main event has been announced.
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: SUNDAY NEWS DIGEST 5/14: Miocic and Jedrzejczyk cement themselves as best in their weight classes as UFC 211 (w/Hisoe’s Analysis)