The UFC’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Mark Ratner, is talking with the Michigan Unarmed Combat Commission following a timing error that cut short the first round of Saturday’s UFC 123 fight between Gerald Harris and Maiquel Falcao, which ended with Harris in a tight rear naked choke from Falcao.
In an interview with MMAJunkie, Ratner said “[he is] talking with Michigan Unarmed Combat Commission,” and stresses “they were in charge of the regulation for the event.” Ratner later goes on to say that there was no conspiracy and that “In my days as the director of the Nevada commission, there were rare instances of timekeeper errors.”
The controversy began in the waning seconds of the first round of the Harris-Falcao fight. With 17 seconds to go in the round, Harris attempted to slam out of rear naked choke. The slam enabled Falcao to adjust his position to sink the choke deeper. With a submission victory seemingly seconds away, Dan Miraglotta dove in to stop the action after hearing the horn. Unfortunately, the horn sounded six seconds before it should have.
At the time, the mistake was over-shadowed by the lack of action in the third round. With Dana White being quoted as saying that Falcao turned the third round into the “Ultimate Staring Contest.” Upon hearing of the incident Dana had this to say, “Am I shocked that someone screwed up? No. Every event, there’s something. The only thing you can do is just bum out and say, ‘It happened again.’ It’s unbelievable.”
So, what did the fighter on the receiving end, Gerald Harris, have to say about the incident? “A lot of people are saying there’s a conspiracy and they cut the time short in the first round so that I wasn’t choked out, but if anybody, they’re not going to save my ass… My name’s not even that big… It’s just stupid for people to think that.”
Harris went on the drop a unanimous decision and has since been released by the UFC, despite the loss being his first inside the Octagon after three-straight knockout wins.
One important thing that people keep bringing up in conspiracy theories is the issue of the “vanishing clock,” in reality the clock has always been taken away to keep people from complaining about minor discrepancies between the scorer’s clock and the production team’s clock.
A point of emphasis here is that the UFC does not have any control over judges, referees, timekeepers, etc. It is the responsibility of the Athletic Commissions to handle and investigate all situations regarding these incidents. An investigation will be launched but it is important to remember that these mistakes happen in all sports from time to time; the blown perfect game this year, the 5th down incident in the 1990 Missouri-Colorado game, illegal use of replay in the Zidane incident, Maradona’s “hand of god,” etc. The errors are unfortunate but there is no way to completely take the human element out of officiating.
Pictured: Maiquel Falcao, via UFC.com