Before the UFC 154 bout between Patrick Cote and Alessio Sakara even began, it was abundantly clear that the crowd inside Montreal’s Bell Centre was solidly behind Cote, erupting into cheers the moment he began his trek to the Octagon.
When the fight began and Cote and Sakara proceeded to stand in the pocket and exchange leather, the cheers got louder. When Cote took the upper hand in the exchange, the volume increased yet again. When Sakara turned the tables and began to tee off on Cote, the cheers remained at the same volume, but there was a definite shift in tone. When Sakara began raining down repeated, very illegal blows to the back of Cote’s head, blows that led to a stoppage, the crowd seemed angry and confused, and oh yeah, still really, really loud.
When the stoppage occurred, those sitting on press row turned to whoever was sitting next to them and asked, “What was that?”
What “that” was, in the words of UFC president Dana White, who spoke to the media after the fight, was crazy. “It was crazy; he (referee Dan Miragliotta) was just standing there watching it, didn’t jump in, didn’t do anything.”
White was correct. Miragliotta was just standing there right in front of two 185-pound men trained in mixed martial arts and watched one man just positively assault the other with illegal blows, and he didn’t do a single thing to stop it until the one absorbing those blows was unable to defend himself.
Even worse, after the stoppage, it looked like the ruling was going to go in favor of Sakara. You know, the fighter that landed punch after punch to the back of Cote’s head.
However when the decision was read and it was announced that Sakara would be disqualified, it didn’t resolve anything. Well, maybe it did for the Montreal crowd. After all, their guy had won, so all was right with the world, but on press row, questions remained.
The confusion among the media centered on the question, was the disqualification of Sakara the right call?
To be honest, it looked wrong and White agreed, saying, “I think it should have been a no contest, not awarded to Cote.”
White elaborated later in his talk, saying, “Seven to nine punches straight to the back of the head and it’s the ref’s job to get in there after the first one and yell ‘get off the back of the head,’ then if he keeps doing it you stop it and give him a warning or you take a point away or whatever it is.”
Sakara’s management team has announced they will appeal the ruling.
All of this could have been avoided had the referee stepped in and said; “hold it, those are illegal blows to the back of the head, this is your warning, you do it again and you will be disqualified,” but he didn’t do that.
That failure is one that stuck in the craw of White long after the fight had wrapped up, “it’s bad enough when you watch a fight and you see somebody just get robbed, the fight’s so lopsided you absolutely know, but it’s another thing to see a guy get hit in the back of the head, a guy whose never been knocked out, get hit in the back of the head seven to nine times with probably the worst illegal punch you can throw in the sport, it’s horrible.“
White summed it up best when he said, “The ref absolutely failed to do his job tonight in a dangerous, dangerous way, and I hate those; those are the worst.”
**all quotes obtained first hand by BRMMA