Overshadowed in yesterday’s NSAC hearing was Francisco Rivera’s appeal to overturn his loss to Uriah Faber at UFC 181. After stunning Rivera with an eye poke in the second round, Faber went on to win via bulldog choke.
The referee, Mario Yamasaki, did not notice the eye poke but it was quite evident, on instant replay, that the eye poke occurred and was instrumental in the the final series of events ending the bout. The NSAC adjourned the hearing for a month as they were unsure if they had jurisdiction to overturn the result. They asked for legal arguments addressing this issue. In all likelihood they do not have jurisdiction. Here’s the breakdown –
Other than when a positive drug test is involved, the NSAC can only overturn a decision in the limited circumstances set out in chapter 467.770. These are as follows:
1. The Commission determines that there was collusion affecting the result of the contest or exhibition;
2. The compilation of the scorecards of the judges discloses an error which shows that the decision was given to the wrong unarmed combatant; or
3. As the result of an error in interpreting a provision of this chapter, the referee has rendered an incorrect decision.
Clearly 1 and 2 don’t apply. The only argument can be #3. Francisco can argue that the referee ‘misinterpreted’ the rules as eye pokes are prohibited, and if seen, should have resulted in a break of up to five minutes.
This argument, however, will likely fall short of the mark. A referee missing a foul is clearly different than a referee misinterpreting the rules and is not contemplated in the plain reading of point #3.
Rivera can argue that the foul was clear on instant replay and the referee should have changed his decision after this became clear. Unfortunately this will fall short of the mark as well as Nevada’s instant replay rule is limited as follows
“After making a determination, a referee may view a replay, if available, at the conclusion of a contest or exhibition stopped immediately due to an injury to an unarmed combatant”
So the use of replay is only to be used when the contest is stopped due to an injury. Here the contest was stopped due to legal submission so the instant replay rule is not triggered.
In short, unless the rules are overhauled, the NSAC would not have jurisdiction to overturn this bout decision based on a referee missing an unintentional eye poke.