When a fighter appeals a ruling made in the cage, the commissions are there to make sure that the rules and regulations of the sport have been followed.
Because there are way too many to list individually, here are three of my favorite examples of various commissions ignoring legitimately bad calls and allowing erroneous losses to forever scar the record of a fighter.
Anthony Johnson vs Kevin Burns – UFC: Silva vs Irvin
Anthony Johnson was a fast rising prospect in the welterweight division when he ran into Kevin “the Fire” Burns. Johnson had just knocked out TUF 6 finalist Tommy Speer in less than one minute and he was in control of Burns as they entered the third round.
Throughout the contest, Burns landed multiple accidental eye pokes by not fully closing his hands when striking, reported due to it being broken. The fight ended after one poke went deep enough into Johnson’s eye that it put him on the ground. The referee ruled the contest as a TKO victory for Burns, despite the ending coming from an illegal strike.
The appeal went to the NSAC, where Keith Kizer was quick to reject it based on “lack of remedy.” Really, Keith? Changing the ruling to a no contest wasn’t an acceptable remedy?
Scott Smith vs David Terrell – UFC 59
Smith and Terrell went toe to toe at UFC 59. At one point, referee Marco Lopez calls for a break in the action. Smith hears the call and immediately breaks. Terrell clearly did not hear the call and continued fighting. Acting quickly, Terrell takes Smith’s back and locks in a rear-naked choke.
Lopez took no action to let Terrell know that a break had been called, and when Smith is forced to tap in order to get Terrell to release the choke, the bout comes to a close, with Smith on the receiving end of an ugly loss.
Appealed to the California State Athletic Commission, this bout should have instantly been declared a no contest. Instead, Smith saw a five-fight winning streak snapped and suffered only the second loss of his career.
Mac Danzig vs Matt Wiman - UFC 115
After defeating Justin Bucholz in his most recent bout, Mac Danzig had finally broken the ugly losing streak that nearly saw The Ultimate Fighter winner on his way out of the UFC. In his next appearance, he was paired off against Matt Wiman.
In the first round, Wiman worked the action to the ground and threatened with a guillotine choke that was nearly cinched in. Mac Danzig was aptly defending the technique by trying to keep Wiman’s arm from under his neck. Referee Yves Lavigne came down to the ground to make sure that Danzig was still conscious. Not in the position to talk or give a thumbs up, Danzig did not react to Lavigne checking on him. Lavigne called off the fight and declared a technical submission due to Danzig being unconscious.
When Danzig immediately rose to his feet in protest, Lavigne admitted his mistake. Danzig had the referee on his side, but the referee does not have the ability to change his mind after an official decision has been made.
The appeal went to the Vancouver Athletic Commission, who promptly did nothing about it. The loss sits on Danzig’s record to this day as a message to fighters everywhere: Pray that the referee doesn’t screw up. You’ll be the one to pay for it.