What if Werdum Lost? A Quick Legal Breakdown

At UFC 203 Farbricio Werdum won a unanimous decision against Travis Browne in the co-main event.

A controversial moment arose in Round 1, however, when Browne injured his finger from a Werdum (legal) strike and basically called timeout with the referee intervening and allowing a stoppage of the action.  (I would provide a GIF of the incident but the UFC take very aggressive stances on use of their intellectual property on the internet).


Here’s a breakdown of the relevant factors in an appeal:

Under Ohio’s Rules a TKO stoppage is to occur in the two potentially applicable circumstances:

  • Referee stops bout because contestant can no longer defend themselves
  • When an injury as a result of a legal maneuver is severe enough to terminate the bout.

And verbal and physical tapouts also potentially come into play with the following definitions:

  • (a) Tap out: when a contestant physically uses their hand(s) to indicate that they no longer wish to continue.
  • (b) Verbal tap out:  when a contestant verbally announces to the referee that they do not wish to continue.

If Werdum ultimately lost a decision he could argue the referee misinterpreted the rules and appeal to overturn the result.

It is unclear what Rules Ohio uses in fighter appellate rights but the Nevada Rules, widely adopted in many jurisdictions, allow a contest to be overturned in the following three circumstances:

  • The Commission determines that there was collusion affecting the result of the contest or exhibition;
  • The compilation of the scorecards of the judges discloses an error which shows that the decision was given to the wrong unarmed combatant; or
  • As the result of an error in interpreting a provision of this chapter, the referee has rendered an incorrect decision.

Allowing a fighter to call a time out after a legal strike is “an error in interpreting” the rules and a viable appeal can exist.

For an example of a fighter calling a timeout following a legal strike with the bout ending (correctly) in a TKO win you can watch Donald Cerrone v. John Makdessi at UFC 187.



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