Urijah Faber continued his streak of winning non-title fights last night (Sat., December 6, 2014) in the “main event” of the UFC 181 FOX Sports 1 prelims. “The California Kid” was able to finish Francisco Rivera in the second round and pick up his seventeenth submission win in the process.
The win, however, did not come without controversy. In the second round, Faber inadvertently poked Rivera in the eye, which backed him up to the cage and ultimately allowed Faber to sink in the choke.
Rivera made it clear today that he will in fact appeal the loss due to the eye poke with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). After discussing the situation with his manager, Rivera felt it was his only option. Rivera described the situation:
“When I felt it, I covered myself,” Rivera said. “I was trying to tell the ref: ‘My eye! My eye!’ I felt Faber hitting me. I couldn’t see. He was on my left side and I couldn’t see out of my left eye.”
Rivera continued on to say that he had a hard time seeing right after the fight and was in pain for hours afterward. Doctors also told him that he has a laceration inside of his eye:
“I don’t know what the hell happened,” Rivera said. “It felt like all his fingers were in my eyes. That’s how bad it is.”
Over the years eye pokes have become an unfortunate problem due to the open fingered gloves used in MMA. After the fight, there seemed to be some discussion between referee Mario Yamasaki and officials regarding the Faber submission win. However, in cases like this, a referee in Nevada is unable to use instant replay to further review the situation.
Rivera claims that he does not think Faber intentionally poked him in the eye, but he does feel as if “The California Kid” knew it happened. Rivera is obviously upset with the situation, noting that he wasn’t beat, he just had no vision:
“Everybody is making a big deal about how many [submissions] he has,” Rivera said. “It sucks for me. It’s not like he dropped me and subbed me. He really, really poked my eye. Accidental or not, what am I supposed to do, fight with my eyes closed?”
To make matters even worse for Rivera, he was actually having some success in the fight against one of the best bantamweights on the planet. Although all three judges scored the first round for Faber, many media members actually believed Rivera had won it. Either way, Faber definitely was not dominating even if he had won the first.
“I thought that I was heading toward one of the best performances of my life,” Rivera said. “I was stuffing takedowns, using my movement, slowly picking him apart.
I felt like I won that first round. I stuffed a few of his takedowns. I think he was freaked about that.”
Rivera also claims that he already asked UFC matchmaker for a rematch with Faber.
“The California Kid” who is in no way known as a dirty fighter, seemed quite apologetic about the eye poke after the fight.
“I just saw (the eye poke) on the replay,” Faber said. “I didn’t know it the minute I got him in the eye. That’s unfortunate. You don’t wish that on anyone. It’s unfortunate for him, but I go out there to finish fights.”
It will be interesting to see what will happen with Rivera’s appeal, as decisions are rarely switched after the fact.
“I don’t think it’s fair.” Rivera said.
Rivera admits that he is not sure if the appeal will be successful, but he could get a rematch. Does he deserve one, or is it just an unfortunate set of circumstances of fighting in the cage?