The Ferreira-Werdum Controversy From 3 Different Perspectives

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Everyone has an opinion about the latest Professional Fighters League controversial stoppage.

It’s been a long time since a fight result has brought so much controversy to the Brazilian MMA community. Considered one of the most popular MMA fighters in the country, former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum received strong support from the fans on social media after his last bout. Atop PFL 3: 2021 Regular Season, Werdum seemed to have forced Renan Ferreira to tap out to a triangle choke, but Ferreira denied this and went on to knock Werdum out. To shed some light on the matter, Sherdog spoke to three different parties: Werdum, Ferreira and respected Brazilian referee Osiris Maia.

“He got the triangle,” Ferreira admitted, “But it was not so tight and was placed on his [side] in a good position [to] keep punishing him, and I kept on attacking him all the time and he kept tightening the triangle. After the fight, Ferreira went straight the doctors, which explains why he was unable to give a post-fight interview like Werdum did.

Attacked by Werdum fans and called “bad character” by “Vai Cavalo,” Ferreira didn’t want to answer Werdum and his fans unless he had to.

“I have a lot of respect for Werdum,” Ferreira said. “What the commission decides I will obey, I’m sure I was the winner last night, so my focus now is on the next phase on June 25 and I’m boarding [a flight] to Vegas now where I’ll start my camp right away.”

Werdum was not so convinced.

“When I closed the triangle 100 percent, he tapped,” Werdum stated. “And when I felt him tapping, I relaxed. That’s something automatic for anyone who trains BJJ. ‘Respect the tap’ is the number one honor code of BJJ. If you see my fights with Fedor [Emelianenko] and [Alexander] Gustafsson they tap once and I immediately let go, I never wanted to hurt my opponents [or be] known like Rousimar Palhares.

“The fact is that Renan knows he tapped, and the biggest proof of that is that he did not publish any celebration on his social media,” Werdum continued. “I already know that PFL and the athletic commission will change the result. I’m not sure if they will give me the win (six points) or no contest (one point) once it was not announced officially, but the result will be overturned for sure.”

Werdum also revealed that he is traveling to Brazil for medical exams that will decide if he can compete in June.

“I went to sleep at 4 a.m. with very strong headaches, still feeling dizzy when I stand up, so I will decide with the doctors, after I [get my head examined], if I will be able to return on June or not. But I believe so, at least that's what I’m willing to do. But of course, my health [is most important].”

Maia did not fault referee Keith Peterson for potentially missing the tap on the other side, nor did he blame Ferreira for continuing to strike even though he may have tapped out.

“Definitely I don’t see any mistake from the referee not in position [to] stop the fight,” the veteran ref affirmed. “The main function of the referee is [to] protect the fighter when he cannot protect himself anymore. As we say: ‘[give me a reason to stop the fight].’ To stop a fight, the referee needs to see clearly that one is in [danger] and that’s not what happened Thursday. Renan was active attacking and bringing risk to Werdum all the time, and the biggest proof of that is that Werdum kept the triangle tight all the time. If I was the referee, I would have the same attitude, and wouldn’t interrupt the fight.”

About the possibility of Werdum’s team appealing the decision, Maia doesn’t believe Werdum will succeed.

“The video [replay] may be used by some athletic commissions when there is a clear mistake in the fact that decided the fight. For example, if a stomp from the guard was in downed position. It’s not the case here, where it was a matter of interpretation of the referee. [The New Jersey] Athletic Commission is one of the most strict. I don’t believe they will overturn that result,” Maia concluded.

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