New Jersey Commission Denies Merab Dvalishvili’s Appeal of Loss at UFC Fight Night 128

By: Tristen Critchfield
Apr 28, 2018

Merab Dvalishvili’s appeal of a controversial loss at UFC Fight Night 128 has been denied by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board.

NJSACB Commissioner Larry Hazzard Sr. explained the decision in a letter on Friday. Dvalishvili lost to Ricky Simon via technical submission at the 5:00 mark of the third round on April 21 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. Dvalishvili was on his way to winning a unanimous decision when he was trapped in a mounted guillotine with approximately one minute remaining.

“The established written protocol for me to overturn a referee’s call; is, if in my discretion; the referee committed a self-evident and palpable error,” Hazzard wrote.

“Many have referred to the apparent submission as a mounted guillotine choke, but to cageside lead ringside physician for the event, Dr. Michael Kelly, and also referee John McCarthy, it was more akin to a neck crank or a one sided choke. This would cause only one side of Dvalishvili’s neck to have limited blood flow to the brain. Further, this one sided choke would result in a slower time to unconsciousness and also a faster recovery when released. Most notably, it is medically feasible to go unconscious from this position. This would explain a sudden loss of consciousness given the prior minute’s situation followed by a split second regaining of consciousness. Please be reminded that we do not need multiple seconds of unconsciousness. Also note that it is common for a contestant to have a momentary loss of consciousness but no recollection of such.”

The Serra-Longo Fight Team member pedaled his legs furiously in attempt to remain conscious until the final horn, but appeared to out when Simon released the hold at the end of the round. After a few moments of confusion, referee Liam Kerrigan waved off the bout, giving Simon the victory. While Dvalishvili contended that he stayed on the canvas a few moments after the conclusion of the fight because he was instructed to do so by the doctors, the NJSACB did not see things his way.

“We fully are aware of the disparity of the viewpoints of the declared outcome. This is true even after days of discussion by fans and media and countless video reviews,” Hazzard wrote. “I can only state that Kerrigan was unwavering in his call, and that I believed him to be correct, or at least well within his discretion to make such a call. Despite the variety of opinions, we note that veteran referee Marc Goddard was cageside and agreed with the call. Furthermore, the most experienced referee in the sport’s history, John McCarthy (who watched offsite via television) felt that the outcome was just and proper.    

“…In summary, I do not find that Mr. Kerrigan committed a self-evident and palpable error; or even any error which comes close to that standard,” Hazzard wrote. “Solely because a decision is disputed does not make such facially incorrect.”

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