Ponzinibbio, 30, crumpled Nelson with a right straight and a left jab but landed a series of blatant eye pokes in the lead-up to the KO.
Nelson’s longtime coach, John Kavanagh, wasn’t happy about it and the team filed a complaint to the UFC in hopes of having the loss overturned to a no contest.
According to Nelson’s management team Paradigm Sports, however, the UFC has rejected ‘Gunni’s’ appeal and will not be looking into the issue any further.
“We are disappointed with the UFC’s recent ruling to uphold the result of the July 16, 2017 bout between our client, Gunnar Nelson, and Santiago Ponzinibbio,” Paradigm Sports posted in a statement on their Facebook page, with several images of the eye pokes. “While we understand the outcome of a fight is difficult to overturn, we maintain that the blatant eye pokes were a major factor in the stoppage and the final eye poke was certainly a fight-ending foul, because Gunnar had no opportunity to signal the referee.
“A more stringent application of the Unified Rules of MMA should have been applied here to rule this fight a no-contest. We stand behind Gunnar and Team Nelson, and we hope this unfortunate situation will lead to more careful application of the rules regarding eye pokes, as fairness and fighter safety must always be a priority.”
It marked the first stoppage loss of Nelson’s career, and the Icelandic-born fighter revealed in the post-fight press conference that he was ‘seeing two Ponzimibbio’s’ in the Octagon.
The SBG Ireland product dropped to #11 in the welterweight rankings and will look to spring back into the winner’s column in his next bout.