By: Jesse Donathan
As BoxingInsider.com previously reported in, “Bellator 232 in Review: When Common Sense isn’t so Common,” Kevin Ferguson Jr., aka “Baby Slice,” scored a controversial 38-second KO victory over the weekend after raining down what appeared to be obvious illegal blows to the back of his opponent Craig Ferguson’s head. On Monday, reports surfaced that The Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation (MTDAR) has officially overturned the Bellator 232 knockout victory for Kevin Ferguson Jr. and deemed the bout a no contest (NC).
According to an October 28, 2019 Sherdog.com article titled, “‘Baby Slice’ Has Bellator 232 Victory Overturned Due to Use of Illegal Elbows,” author Tristen Critchfield writes that MTDAR president Mike Mazzulli notified Bellator president Scott Coker of the commissions intentions to overturn the original results of the fight.
Referencing the official MTDAR letter to Coker, Sherdog.com went on to report, “In the case of the above-referenced bout, upon review of the tape, we have determined that the injury that stopped the bout was the result of an accidental foul; elbows to the back of the head.” The author Tristen Critchfield went on to quote the commission’s findings as concluding that, “Since the bout was stopped in the first round of a bout scheduled for three rounds, we have determined that the result of the bout must be changed to ‘no-contest.’”
The Bellator 232 no contest ruling comes on the heels of another no contest ruling at Bellator 231, which aired the previous evening on Friday night, also hosted at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. As originally published in an October 25, 2019 EWrestling.com article titled, “Bellator 231: Jake Hager’s Third MMA Fight A “No Contest” Due To Low-Blows, AEW Represented At Show,” author Matt Boone writes that, “The third professional MMA bout of former WWE Superstar turned AEW wrestler Jake Hager ended in controversy.”
According to the report, “The fight was stopped less than two minutes after the action got underway due to Hager landing a hard groin shot on his opponent, the second for him in under 30 seconds.” Which unfortunately highlights a curious trend across promotional lines in mixed martial arts; athletes using otherwise illegal, prohibited techniques in the ring or cage to gain the upper hand over their rule abiding counterparts.
In August, former UFC two-division champion Daniel Cormier eye gouged Stipe Miocic in their championship title fight at UFC 241, itself a repeat of their first meeting at UFC 226 where Cormier again eye gouged Miocic shortly before knocking out the Ohio native to claim the UFC heavyweight title. After reclaiming the UFC heavyweight title in the rematch, Miocic reportedly underwent corrective surgery to restore his vision prior to a scheduled trilogy fight with the eye gouging Daniel Cormier in 2020.
And again, at UFC Fight Night 147 in March, welterweight Jorge Masvidal kicked opponent Darren Till in the groin before going on to knock the young British fighter out cold to cite just a small handful of cases in an increasingly regular occurrence in mixed martial arts competition. In a sport which was one governed with as few rules as possible, today athletes are routinely penalized for infractions that pale in comparison to some of the illegal techniques they are regularly given the benefit of the doubt over after already inflicting egregious bodily harm to their opponents.
Does the future of mixed martial arts exist in a sea of no contests and “unintentional” fouls as the referee’s all too often look the other way when their law-abiding contestants bare the true responsibility for their opponent’s illegal behavior? Interestingly, according to a Predictem.com article titled, “Boxing Betting Rules,” author Scotty L. writes that, “Results are decided in the ring on the date of the fight. In other words, any changes made to the result of a fight due to a failed drug test, a successful appeal, an incorrect scoring procedure, etc. will have no bearing.” The report goes on to state that, “The decision rendered at the conclusion of a fight is binding. Also, you have no recourse if you come out on the short end of a controversial result, regardless of how overt the incompetence or corruption of the officials was.”
The sum of which brings an entirely new perspective and plane of understanding to some of the most controversial topics in the combat sports entertainment industry today. With referee Bryan Miner having originally ruled the Ferguson Jr./Campbell fight a knockout victory for “Baby Slice” Saturday night, clearly dropping the ball on Ferguson Jr.’s use of illegal strikes to the back of his opponents head, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is whether or not anything else occurred over the weekend at Bellator 231 and 232 that the MTDAR may want to go back and take a second look at? With tribal lands traditionally being a place where MMA rules and regulations are fast and loose, its interesting to consider just how often Roy “Big Country” Nelson has found himself fighting at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.