It seems that in the early part of 2020, the Ultimate Fighting Championship can’t even go as little as two full shows without having a controversy.
To understand how we got to Saturday night in Norfolk, VA, we first must go back in time.
Feb. 8, 2020: UFC 247’s main event Light Heavyweight title fight is won by unanimous decision by Jon Jones. The 14th title fight victory for Jones is tainted by the fact that opponent Dominick Reyes bested Jones in two of the three major statistical categories.
Feb. 15, 2020: UFC Fight Night Rio Rancho sees two fights on its card end by disqualification due to illegal knees.
Both disqualifications in this event happened during its main card.
Brok Weaver won by first-round DQ because of an illegal knee delivered by his opponent Kazula Vargas with 58 seconds remaining on the first-round clock in a Lightweight division attraction.
That night’s co-main event saw Diego Sanchez and Michel Pereira fight to the third round of their Welterweight contest.
However, with just under two minutes left on the clock in the fight, Pereira landed the illegal knee, ending the match.
The Feb. 22 UFC Auckland card on ESPN+ was controversy-free wall-to-wall.
Now, we’ve arrived to the aftermath of Saturday night’s UFC Norfolk card, and we have a few items to unpack after the fight.
No. 1 contender Joseph Benavidez fought No. 3 contender Deivison Figuereido in the main event for the vacant UFC Flyweight championship.
Only Benavidez was eligible to claim the vacant belt as Figuereido missed weight at Friday’s weigh-in—and Figureido wound up scoring a second-round TKO of Benavidez in the fight.
But let’s get real:
The fact that Deivison Figuereido failed to make weight for the title fight is small potatoes compared to what we’re about to discuss.
Earlier on in the main card on Saturday night, Magomed Ankalaev fought Ion Cutelaba in a Light Heavyweight showcase.
Everything came unglued in a hurry, ladies and gentlemen.
During announcer Bruce Buffer’s pre-fight introductions, both fighters got into an all-out brawl, forcing security guards to break it up.
As far as the actual fight itself, it didn’t last long.
Referee Kevin McDonald oversaw the contest, which saw Ankalaev throw and land multiple punches and score with head kicks.
Following the onslaught of strikes, Cutelaba was barely wobbling, but McDonald intervened, calling the fight in favor of Ankalaev (first-round TKO).
There was only one problem:
Ion Cutelaba never officially went out.
Boos immediately rained down inside Chartway Arena in Norfolk and continued to cascade as Buffer announced Ankalev as the fight’s winner.
As I have mentioned before in articles for this site, the role of a referee in MMA and all combat sports includes looking out for competitor safety.
Cutelaba lost by TKO despite the fact that he was still standing when Kevin McDonald waved off the fight.
Simply, Kevin McDonald stopped the fight too early.
The UFC needs to do the right thing here and book a rematch between these two fighters as soon as possible.
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