Last weekend, longtime MMA heavyweight Jonathan Ivey was involved in a rare fight result that went viral when he tapped out to avoid beating his idol, fellow veteran Travis Fulton at Colosseum Combat 45 in Indiana.
The story was quite a bit stranger than just that, however, as video of the bout appeared to show Ivey faking a heart attack before dropping Fulton with a rushing attack and raining down damage on the 411-fight veteran (yes, 411 fights). Ivey continued his assault for some time but then did the unthinkable and stepped back to tap out rather than continue to pound his idol.
The 99-fight veteran Ivey spoke up about the strange ending to MMA Fighting, detailing why he did what he did to avoid hurting Fulton, whom he has a tattoo of on his leg. At first, he thought it was a great opportunity to fight his hero:
“It’s kind of complicated. When I turned pro on the undercard of a Hook’n’Shoot event years ago, Travis Fulton was the main event that night. I looked up to him throughout my career and tried to emulate his career as much as I could. Years ago, I tattooed a portrait of him on my leg sleeve, that I was dedicating to the men in the sport that I looked up to.
“I was supposed to defend this heavyweight title in February but UFC vet after UFC vet would agree to the fight and then drop out. So then it was agreed upon that Fulton would be the opponent and I was excited. I would get to fight the guy I looked up to from the beginning.”
But when he dropped his so-called hero after the fake ‘heart attack’ in question, Ivey saw Fulton’s eyes roll back in his head and he became defenseless even though the referee chose not to stop the fight, so he took the matter into his hands:
”The first couple minutes was Travis and I just exchanging punches and kicks. Then I caught him with a left hook that hurt him and put him down with a right hand. Once he went down I followed him to the ground and threw some hard shots. The second one I threw his eyes rolled back in his head. I told the ref Travis was done and to stop it but he didn’t. I threw some more punches and Travis came back a little bit. He was still defenseless, but he was able to bring his legs up, so I put my knee on his head and just threw short shots.
”He wasn’t moving and his head was trapped. His legs were up but he was defenseless. I threw a couple more punches and begged the ref to stop it. The ref wouldn’t. So I stood up and backed away and bent over to tap the mat. Yes, I wanted to fight Travis, but I didn’t want to punch him after his eyes rolled back and he was defenseless. I was never the fighter Travis was and I never will be. He’s the reason I made the decisions I did during my career. I wasn’t going to keep punching him when the fight should have been over.”
UFC veteran Fulton was declared the winner, and Ivey further dove into his position that he wanted to fight his hero, but didn’t want to hurt him for no reason when the fight should’ve been stopped. Any other fighter, perhaps, Ivey said, but he just couldn’t hurt a defenseless Fulton:
“I loved getting to fight my idol. I just regret the ref didn’t stop the fight when it should have been stopped,” Ivey said. “I signed up to fight Travis, I didn’t sign up to hit him repeatedly after his eyes rolled back and he was laying there defenseless. If it would have been some dude I never heard of I may have kept punching, but Travis didn’t deserve that.”
As for the heart attack, Ivey said he faked no such injury, but was instead pretending that a Fulton kick hurt to fake his opponent out. Those suggesting he was faking a heart attack simply had never seen any of his fights, as he’s been known to be quite a character:
”I’ve seen people saying I faked a heart attack… that is ridiculous,” he said. “Those people have clearly never seen me fight. I’m always doing funny stuff while I fight. Travis had just kicked me and it made a loud smack, so I was just playing around like it hurt.”