ESPN The Magazine's Ryan Hockensmith reports:
Benji Radach is in the midst of filing an appeal of his knockout loss to Scott Smith April 11 on Strikeforce.
. . .
Radach's appeal is not quite official yet; he says he and his managers are putting together the official paperwork and plan to file it soon. In the submitted documents, Radach will point to several mistakes he feels referee Herb Dean made.
He had a second-round guillotine he cinched up tight on Smith, and says he felt Hands of Steel grab the cage to help him ease out of Radach's grip. Radach says he even heard Dean say something to Smith about grabbing the fence. "If Scott hadn't gotten ahold of the cage—which is blatantly against the rules—I think I would have finished him there," Radach says.
Radach also thinks the stoppage was unfair, for two reasons.
First, he says he was okay and was scrambling to get back to his feet. "I was not out," Radach says. (That's arguable—Smith did land a big right hand that planed Radach on the canvas.)
Secondly, Radach says Smith ended the fight with an illegal blow to the back of the head. That claim seems to have some merit, based on the video.
I understand that Radach is upset that he lost, but this appeal is a detriment to one of the best fights of the year so far. I disagree wih most of Radach's arguments. I agree with Radach that he would have won a decision. However, it's impossible to say that the guillotine would have finished him with any certainty. Using "what if" arguments like that weakens Radach's case.
Also, the blow that knocked Radach down should not have been called illegal. The reason that it hit Radach in the back of the head was that Radach turned his head as Smith threw the punch. While technically illegal, it is obvious that Smith was not aiming for the back of the head. If punches similar to that one were called illegal, then fighters could just turn around when they think there is a big punch coming.
While Herb Dean is a far from perfect referee, he did nothing egregious enough to merit an appeal. Radach, accept the loss, be proud that you were in a great fight, and rehab so that we can see you fight in another war.