The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 30 was a Lightweight tilt that promised fireworks. The heavy-handed Melvin Guillard faced off against British striker Ross Pearson. Guillard got off to a good start with Pearson struggling to get inside. He landed a few hard punches before Pearson jumped in recklessly with flying knee. Guillard caught him and tossed him to the cage. As Pearson returned to his feet, Guillard launched to knees that referee Marc Goddard determined were illegal and the action was stopped. The ringside physician determined the cut on Pearson's forehead was too bad for him to continue and the fight was declared a No Contest.
With a couple days to think about his decision, Goddard is still confident in his decision to halt the action. On Monday's episode of The MMA Hour, Goddard spoke with Ariel Helwani:
Looking back on the messy situation during Monday's episode of The MMA Hour, Goddard stated "100-percent" confidence in his decision.
"It wasn't the first knee that Melvin delivered," Goddard explained. "It was actually the second knee, and it was the second knee that opened up the cut.
"I saw Ross' hand, and when I say hand, I mean his palm. His entire hand. It wasn't what we're used to before with the fingertips and playing the game, as me and a couple of other refs will allude to. This was a deliberate action, in terms of Ross making himself safe, putting his full hand down on the mat. The knee came in, connected with the forehead. That's what caused the cut. That's exactly what I saw, and that's why I stopped the fight at that time to deal with it."
Goddard also spoke about fighters "playing the game" with the downed opponent rule and the recent amendment to the unified rules:
"What came out of [2013 ABC conference] was they understand that it goes on, but the defining factor came that it's up to the referee," Goddard revealed. "It's (up to) the referee's discretion to call whether a fighter is playing the game or not."
"If a fighter is in danger of being (hurt), they know what they're afforded to do," Goddard explained. "If you want to be a downed fighter, be a downed fighter. If it goes down to one knee, put your hand flat.
"What I won't do, what I won't allow, and some fighters will testify, is if you're going to start playing the fingertip game, because that is playing a game. If you want to be afforded the protection of a downed fighter, then become a downed fighter. And quite clearly to me, that's what Ross Pearson did. When the first knee came in, he could see the danger of repeated knees. He put his hand flat on (mat), and unfortunately ... Melvin didn't have time to see that. He didn't have time to react, and I had to do what I had to do."
With the no contest standing as the official ruling in the books, the UFC has chosen to set up an immediate rematch between Guillard and Pearson. The two will face off in March when the promotion returns to England with a London show. Following Fight Night 30, Dana White confirmed that the main event will be a Light Heavyweight bout between Alexander Gustafsson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
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