Ref Marc Goddard Addresses Controversial Ruling in Ricky Simon vs. Merab Dvalishvili Bout

By Tristen Critchfield Apr 22, 2018


When the third round horn sounded to signal the conclusion of bantamweight bout between Merab Dvalishvili and Ricky Simon at UFC Fight Night 128, it initially appeared that Dvalishvili had just barely survived to win a decision.

In the waning moments of the bout, Simon locked in a tight mounted guillotine. However, Dvalishvili squirmed and bicycled his legs for approximately one minute, never tapping to the maneuver. When the horn sounded and Simon let go of the hold, it wasn’t completely clear at first whether Dvalishvili was still conscious. After some deliberation by officials from the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, referee Liam Kerrigan ruled that Simon had won via technical submission at the 5:00 mark of round three.

Veteran official Marc Goddard, who helped the commission make a final ruling, explained the decision during an interview on Fox Sports 1 following the event.

“I think it was pretty clear at the end of the fight, maybe even before, when the bell sounded, Dvalishvili ... he was out,” Goddard said. “He was actually out. And in that instance, it’s like any other instance if you pick up a rear-naked choke or a guillotine. The fact that he drifts into unconsciousness was actually — it should be recorded as a submission, technical submission.”

In the immediate aftermath, Dvalishvili celebrated as if he had won the fight. But according to Goddard, Kerrigan had already waved off the bout.

“There was a bit of confusion, it was loud, and I just wanted to make sure that they weren’t going to go to the scorecards, because that’s the way it looked like it was going to be heading. But the referee Liam Kerrigan, to his credit, when he saw [Dvalishvili] was out, he actually waved it off,” Goddard said. “And I think there was a little bit of a rush, people thought we were going to try and read the scorecards, so I said, ‘No, no, no. The guy has lost the fight.’ Even though he came around pretty sharp afterwards, he most definitely lost the fight under the ruling and the right guy went away with the win.”

Not surprisingly, Simon agreed with the call. The 25-year-old Gracie Barra Portland representative has won six straight fights and is 13-1 as a professional overall.

“I got up, looked at his eyes and he was gone,” Simon said. “I sunk in a deep choke and he was out. I stood over his body and he was limp. He was flailing and then went limp.”

Dvalishvili, who was on his way to winning a decision, claimed that he wasn’t out and that he was instructed by the cageside physician to remain on the canvas.

“He took me down and I couldn’t move. I just waited because there was only a short amount of time left. When it was finished, I was just tired and stayed down,” Dvalishvili said. “I knew I had won. The doctors told me to stay down. I don’t know why they gave it to him. I feel I’m the winner. I didn’t lose this fight. I just want more fights. I want to stay busy.”

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