At UFC Fight Night 30 we saw the co-main between Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson and Melvin ‘The Young Assassin’ Guillard end abruptly because of an illegal knee. As Pearson (15-6-1 MMA, 7-3-1 UFC) attempted to throw a flying knee Guillard (31-12-2-2, 12-8-1 UFC) countered the strike, throwing Pearson onto one knee against the cage.
As Pearson attempted to get up Guillard moved in and threw two knees in quick succession to his face. The first was unclear, but referee Mark Goddard had no doubt about the second, which hit a downed Pearson.
Goddard jumped in to halt the contest, declaring an illegal knee had landed. As Pearson emerged from the ground he had a nasty gash on his head that officials deemed too serious for Pearson to continue.
As the fighters lined up for the official results, Bruce Buffer declared the bout a No-Contest due to an accidental strike.
Pearson was unable to continue due to an illegal strike, so why the no contest? An illegal strike is an illegal strike, accidental or not. Why not a disqualification for Guillard?
At UFC 159 this April we watched as Michael Bisping’s bout with Alan Belcher was stopped at the end of the third round with an accidental eye poke from ‘The Count.’
Belcher was unable to continue, so the contest was stopped. Unlike the Guillard vs. Pearson fight, it was decided that being so late in the final round the bout would go to an early decision, which Bisping picked up unanimously.
Inconsistent? Both bouts end in an accidental foul but one goes to an early decision while the other was ruled a no contest. It’s not the first time the UFC has showed inconsistency around fights ending with an ‘accidental foul’.
Going even further back to December 2009 at The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale, we see the same inconsistency. That night, a fight between current light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Matt Hamill was stopped due to an accidental strike. The result was different than both of the previously mentioned bouts.
Jones was disqualified in that fight. After hammering ‘The Hammer’ for four minutes, Jones was in full mount trying to finish his opponent when he landed an illegal 12-6 elbow. Hamill was ruled unable to continue (though he probably wouldn’t have been able to without the elbow either).
The result put a dent on his previously undefeated record. Wouldn’t it have been more fitting to make it a No-Contest like the Guillard/Pearson fight? There would have been more reason to justify that decision, as Jones was clearly dominating and about to finish the bout. The Pearson vs. Guillard fight was even up until the point of controversy.
The UFC needs to introduce stricter guidelines for officials so they know what action should definitively be taken when an accidental foul occurs. Depending on how it’s weighed, there could have been three different results for either Pearson or Guillard at the end of their bout.