Former Ultimate Fighting Championship champ Junior dos Santos is looking to right a perceived wrong suffered before his release.
On Thursday, ESPN announced that dos Santos (21-9) will be appealing his UFC 256 loss to Ciryl Gane from Dec. 12. According to dos Santos’ agent Ana Guedes, the ex-champ has filed his appeal to the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Wednesday, while requesting a hearing before the commission. His claim, as he has levied in the past, is that he was struck illegally behind the head from Gane, which resulted in him being finished.
Dos Santos seeks the bout status – a TKO loss at 2:34 of Round 2 – to be overturned to a no-contest or even a disqualification, depending on the verdict of the commission. Although there was a January appeal that dos Santos’ team filed, the commission rejected it on the grounds that dos Santos did not clarify exactly what “a referee misinterpretation of the rules” meant.
The appeal document, which was received by ESPN, wrote, “It is our position that Mr. Gane acted without malice but, like many fighters, without a clear understanding of what the rule prohibits. We believe the illegal blow landed exactly where it was intended by Mr. Gane, and should have disqualified him immediately.”
Gane officially won the fight from a right elbow that dropped dos Santos, and dos Santos’ team contends that it landed to the back of his head and/or neck, both of which are illegal targets per the Unified Rules of MMA. His team has also provided with images taken during and after the fight showing the exact spot of the foul, and the bruising and damage dos Santos sustained as a result of the strikes.
Under his revised appeal, dos Santos’ team claims that referee Jerin Valel advised dos Santos of the illegal blow, stating that, “because Gane’s forearm touched Junior’s ear, the elbow aimed directly at Junior’s brain stem was somehow rendered legal.” Guedes further explained that there are no such exceptions for a strike’s aim or whether part of the arm stuck the head and another part landed illegally.
A few months ago, dos Santos voiced his grievances of the loss, while trying to explain it was not simply a case of him being upset for taking a defeat.
“I don’t think it was intentional by Gane, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t illegal,” dos Santos explained in December. “It completely changed the fight in a way that’s not OK with me and should not be OK with anyone who cares about our sport and our safety. I have never not been humble in defeat, but this is not the case here. I feel bad that this situation takes away the shine of this victory, but it’s also not OK. [It’s] not right to expect me to take a loss from an illegal blow. I hope you guys agree with me. I know my situation isn’t good in the organization, but that’s not the reason to suddenly stop enforcing rules or stop ensuring my safety inside the cage.”