Francisco Rivera (right) is looking for a rematch with Urijah Faber. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Francisco Rivera was executing his game plan, landing strikes and, despite entering his UFC 181 bout with Urijah Faber as a heavy underdog, appeared to have won the opening round. Then, a finger to the eye ruined his night.
After receiving an inadvertent poke to the left eye in round two, Rivera covered up, allowing Faber to pounce on his wounded opponent and secure a fight-ending bulldog choke. Referee Mario Yamasaki did not recognize the foul, and Faber was awarded the win via submission. However, if Rivera’s camp has its way, Saturday’s outcome will be changed to a no-contest and a rematch will be arranged.
Speaking with Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show on Monday, Rivera’s manager, Jason House, said that the fighter plans to file an appeal with the Nevada Athletic Commission in hopes of having the result overturned. While nothing has been filed yet, House stated that he communicated with NAC Executive Direction Bob Bennett on Monday morning regarding the appeal procedure.
“I know a lot of people have said, ‘Your chances are slim to none,’ but I’m not focused on that,” said House. “I’m focused on presenting the best case possible to the commission. I do think the situation that occurred on Saturday is pretty blatant.”
House said he did not know if Rivera would have been able to continue had the foul been recognized by referee Yamasaki, but House believes that the fighter should have been given the opportunity to recover from the foul. The manager contends that instant replay would have been helpful in this instance.
“Especially as the fights are getting bigger and better, there’s a lot on the line there. I definitely would like to use it to make sure that the outcome is just,” House said. “If you were able to insert instant replay for Saturday night, for example, I think it would have shown that the eye poke did end to the outcome of the fight. Literally seconds after, that fight was done.”
Regardless of the verdict on the appeal, House said that Rivera’s camp would like a rematch with Faber and has already approached the UFC about the potential return bout.
“I asked the UFC if we could have one. We’d definitely love to get a rematch,” said House. “The UFC was very supportive of Francisco. They definitely understood his frustration.”
While many online critics directed vitriol at Yamasaki for failing to recognize the foul and pause the fight, House explained that he blamed neither the referee nor Faber for the mistake.
“He didn’t see the eye poke. We’re human. Stuff like that happens. I’m definitely not trying to point the blame at Urijah Faber or point the blame at Mario Yamasaki. We’re more just trying to right the wrong.”