The Nevada Athletic Commission, perhaps unsurprisingly, has denied Francisco Rivera's appeal to have his 2nd round submission loss to Urijah Faber at UFC 181 overturned to a no contest. Before Rivera was submitted, Faber stunned him with an eye poke, and the finishing sequence soon followed. Deputy attorney general Christopher Eccles stated in today's hearing that referee Mario Yamasaki missed the eye poke, and that the result couldn't be overturned because it wasn't a misinterpretation.
Deputy AG Eccles is arguing that the ref missed the foul rather than misinterpreting the rule, ergo the fight decision can't be reversed.— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) February 17, 2015
After intense slow-motion replays of the ending, coupled with Yamasaki saying that he never saw the eye poke, Rivera and his manager, Jason House, were able to join the meeting via telephone and disputed Yamasaki's claim.
Rivera and his manager are disputing Yamasaki's claim that he didn't see the eye poke.— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) February 17, 2015
Eccles said that Yamasaki did not have instant replay available to him as he did not immediately stop the fight because of the poke. Replay was not an option because he never saw the foul, and the commission finished the discussion by formally denying Rivera's appeal.
NAC Commish: "This comes down to the distinction between the application and the interpretation of the rules."— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) February 17, 2015
"Because the referee did not misinterpret the rule, we can not overturn his decision."— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) February 17, 2015
NAC Commish: "We're powerless."— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) February 17, 2015
It's rough news for Rivera, who is now on a two-fight losing streak and was clearly poked in the eye right before the fight-ending choke. Fans may recall when Anthony Johnson lost by TKO against Kevin Burns despite clearly getting poked in the eye, which caused his fall. Steve Mazzagatti never saw the foul, and the appeal was similarly denied.
But if you're an optimist, this has all potentially inspired talks of change in how future cases like Faber vs. Rivera are handled in the state of Nevada.