Secret Panel Changes Eddie Alvarez Loss to No Contest

Former UFC champion Eddie Alvarez was handed a disqualification loss to Iuri Lapicus at an event promoted earlier this month by ONE Championship.

ONE, a promotion based out of Singapore, self regulates their own events. Unlike the North American model where bouts are overseen by State, Provincial, Tribal (or sometimes municipal) Athletic Commissions ONE acts as their own judge jury and executioner.

In the Alvarez/Lapicus bout Alvarez struck his opponent with blows to the back of the head. The referee handed Alvarez a red card for the foul and disqualified him.

Today ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that a secret panel overturned the result to a no contest.

No, the secret panel is not called the Black Dragon Society but they may as well as the lack of transparency highlights the issues of promotion controlled bout outcomes.

Helwani reports as follows regarding the opaqueness of the process:

A panel made up of 15 independent officials, plus One personnel, judges and referees, unanimously determined that illegal strikes to the back of Lapicus’ head did in fact occur, but they also determined that “a procedural misstep” by the referee happened when he halted the bout and handed Alvarez a red card, thus disqualifying him, after the second strike to the back of the head.

The panel, per One officials, decided Alvarez should have been given a warning instead of a red card, which ultimately ended the fight. As a result, the red card has been retracted and a yellow card has been issued in its place. The result of the fight has officially been changed as well.

The bout, which took place on April 7, was halted at 1:02 of the first round. Alvarez said afterward that he didn’t think it should have been stopped and would appeal the loss.

One would not reveal the identity of the panel members.

Leaving the merits of the correct outcome aside, the question is when can a fighter overturn a bout result they disagree with under ONE’s rules? ONE’s website says precious little about the criteria.

ONE would do well to publish full criteria of what standards are in place for overturning bout outcomes.

Here the precedent has been set that the mere exercise of referee discretion is enough to change a bout outcome on appeal. This is a standard vastly different from most regulated jurisdictions where the lawful use of discretion itself cannot alter a bout and only narrow and clearly articulated grounds suffice to change official outcomes.

Why the identity of ONE’s panel is secret is equally unclear but this illustrates a clear contrast of how things differ in regulated vs promoter controlled jurisdictions.

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