CABMAA Changes Stewart v. Barroso to No Contest after “Self Evident Error”

In 2015, after what was considered one of the worst stoppages in UFC history, the Brazilian MMA Commission (CABMAA) adopted a rule change allowing bouts to be changed to a no-contest in the case of self-evident error.  Today, as first reported by Guilherme Cruz, CABMMA used this power for a second time to change Francimar Barroso’s loss to Darren Stewart to a no-contest.

The referee officiating the bout failed to notice a head-butt to Barroso that led to a bout ending sequence.  CABMMA has instant replay available in such circumstances but according to CABMAA the referee failed to properly use this tool.  In finding this omission was a self evident error and overturning the bout’s result to a no-contest CABMAA released the following reasons which appear to be a little legally thin if this tweet from John Morgan is accurate:


After receiving Francimar Barroso ́s formal appeal on November 19, 2016, the Brazilian Athletic Commission (CABMMA) has done a detailed analysis of the newly implemented “Instant Replay” guideline as a tool to insure fairness in the match and a proper outcome at the conclusion of the fight.

Due to the complexities involved in the sport of MMA, the referee may only use “Instant Replay” when he/she feels that a “Fight Ending Sequence” was possibly caused by an illegal action (foul) whether intentional or unintentional. At such time, the referee and only the referee may call for a review of the last moments of the fight. Once reviewing the replay, the referee, with or without the help of the other assigned referees of the event, can either confirm or dispel whether the foul was committed that brought about the fight ending sequence and take the appropriate actions from there.

If a referee utilizes “Instant Replay”, the information obtained from the replay cannot be used to restart the fight as the fight is officially over and may not be resumed.

The sole purpose of “Instant Replay” in MMA is to allow the referee to make a correct call on the outcome of the fight in calling:

a. A winner of the match

b. Having the fight go to the judge’s scorecards for a Technical Decision

c. Is the fight going to be a “No Contest”?

d. Disqualification

Below are the facts, related to the case, seeing the replay from the referee ́s perspective:

(i) The contact seen from that angle and the speed in which occurred was interpreted as part of a moving in attempt to clinch the opponent.

(ii) The referee did not identify it as head butt and told the fighter to continue on fighting.

(iii) As they were clinched on the fence, the referee told again the fighter not to stop, either to defend or to continue on fighting.

(iv) The fighter had plenty of time to defend himself or fight, as he continued on signaling to the referee the possible illegal blow, but chose not to do so.

(v) The fighter wanted to use that possible illegal blow to stop the moment as he was being pressured to the cage.

(vi) The fighter was taken down, ground and pounded, and the match was brought to an end.

Below are the facts, related to the case, seeing the replay from the Commission ́s/Regulator perspective:

(i) The contact of the head to any part of the body, when not in a push but rather in a clash movement, can be considered a head butt.

(ii) The intensity of the blow cannot be measured, even when bruises, cuts or fractures are not identified.

(iii) The fighter signaled to the referee the possible illegal blow.

(iv) The fighter stopped his action, fighting and/or defending, due to the possible illegal blow.

(v) The fight ending sequence started due to the possible illegal blow.


(i) The referee would have acted differently and asked for time out if he had seen the incident from a better position/angle in the cage, even if not entirely sure of what caused it, since it was being signaled to him by the fighter.

(ii) After the time out, and normal/event replay shown on the big screen and referee identifying it as a contact of head to face, would have given a strong warning to the opponent, advising him to be more careful with clinching attempts using ‘‘head in’’ first movements/contacts. If not identified as it, but rather a normal blow (elbow, punch) and understood that the athlete was trying to misguide the referee to break that moment, the referee would have called the result as a TKO or desistance, since it was the fighter that signaled to the referee to interrupt the moment. But for this case, it should be considered as an unintentional foul.

(iii) The incident did have an effect of the outcome of the fight since it was part of what ended the fight.

Consequently, after reviewing the case, the Executive Committee has understood that the sole purpose of the “Instant Replay” was not properly achieved, therefore decided to overturn the result of Barroso vs.Stewart bout and is officially determining it a NO CONTEST.

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