Ricky Simon and Merab Dvalishvili took home a Fight of the Night bonus for their undercard brawl at UFC Atlantic City, but that extra cash didn’t quell the controversy surrounding the bout’s unbelievable finish.
On the verge of losing a clear-cut judges’ decision, UFC newcomer Simon somehow snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a Hail Mary mounted guillotine against Dvalishvili in the closing seconds of the match on Saturday night. Dvalishvili fought gamely against the choke and never tapped, however officials for the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board ruled that the Georgia native was actually unconscious at the end of the bout, leading them to award Simon a TKO victory at 5:00 of the third round — the latest stoppage in a three-round fight in UFC history.
Although he was not the referee of the bout, veteran official Marc Goddard aided in the commission’s decision-making process for Simon vs. Dvalishvili. Afterward, he appeared on the FOX Sports 1 post-fight show to explain why Simon was ruled the winner.
“I think it was pretty clear at the end of the fight, maybe even before, when the bell sounded, Dvalishvili … he was out,” Goddard said. “He was actually out. And in that instance, it’s like any other instance if you pick up a rear-naked choke or a guillotine. The fact that he drifts into unconsciousness was actually — it should be recorded as a submission, technical submission.”
For his part, Dvalishvili vigorously protested the commission’s decision, arguing that he was simply tired after the bout and never slipped into unconsciousness.
“[Simon] took me down and I couldn’t move. I just waited because there was only a short amount of time left,” Dvalishvili said. “When it was finished, I was just tired and stayed down. I knew I had won. The doctors told me to stay down. I don’t know why they gave it to him. I feel I’m the winner. I didn’t lose this fight.”
Simon, of course, disagreed with Dvalishvili’s assertion that he maintained consciousness. The UFC newcomer said post-fight that Dvalishvili “went limp” and “was out.”
And to that, Goddard agrees.
“There was a bit of confusion, it was loud, and I just wanted to make sure that they weren’t going to go to the scorecards, because that’s the way it looked like it was going to be heading,” Goddard explained. “But the referee Liam Kerrigan, to his credit, when he saw [Dvalishvili] was out, he actually waved it off. And I think there was a little bit of a rush, people thought we were going to try and read the scorecards, so I said, ‘No, no, no. The guy has lost the fight.’ Even though he came around pretty sharp afterwards, he most definitely lost the fight under the ruling and the right guy went away with the win.”