Despite taking one of the most gruesome beatings MMA has seen in 2017 -- and even in years prior -- Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight Gavin Tucker has nothing but love for the third man in the cage that night.
At UFC 215 in Edmonton, Alberta, the 31-year-old Tucker dropped a brutal and lopsided unanimous decision to Rick Glenn. The sheer amount of punishment that the Newfoundland native absorbed, especially in the third round, led many to question why referee Kyle Cardinal didn't halt the bout. When the judges scorecards were read, Sean Gerke saw it a generous 29-27, while Dave Hagen scored the bout 30-25 with 10-8 rounds in the second and third stanzas. Sal D'Amato had it 30-24 for Glenn, with an appropriate 10-7 in Round 3. It was the first loss of Tucker's career.
On Monday, Tucker took to Facebook to give an update on his condition – a grim one, at that – but was adamant that Cardinal deserved no blame for how the fight unfolded and was even thankful for the referee's extreme latitude.
“I lost on Saturday. Stop blaming the ref for a bad call. That man let me go out on my shield,” wrote Tucker. “He visited while I was in the hospital and apologized. Was him and I in that cage. I didn't stop fighting. He saw that. He should sleep easy.”
Cardinal, a regular official utilized by the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission, is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Rodrigo Munduruca. He fought one professional MMA bout in October 2010, where he was knocked out by Lee Mein. The Glenn-Tucker bout would up being the sole refereeing assignment for Cardinal at UFC 215, though he was reportedly slated to oversee two more bouts on the evening, including the co-main event between Rafael dos Anjos and Neil Magny.
Glenn scored liberally on the feet on Tucker, dropping him late in the opening round and then turning up the pressure from there, leading to an overwhelming ground-and-pound assault in the bout's latter stages. In his post, Tucker said that he sustained a jaw fracture in the first round and has four broken bones in his face, including another vertical break in his jaw, as well as two broken orbital bones.
“I fought my heart out,” Tucker added. “I'm a rare breed of straight savage and I don't need social media to tell me that.”
Tucker's full Facebook post follows below: