Things can get a bit wild on the regional MMA scene. Small shows run, often without the same level of security, oversight, or trained staff as their larger counterparts, but still with the same amount of violence and emotion. It’s a recipe for things to go from bad to worse in a hurry.
The latest example comes from Capanema Fight Combat, an event so far off the beaten path it’s not listed on any of the major MMA record keeping sites. The September 23rd card included a bout between longtime regional veterans Silmar ‘Sombra’ Nunes 35-12-1 (1 NC) and Caio ‘Paturi’ Silva 11-9-1 (1 NC).
Controversy over the original choice of referee – apparently a former coach of Silva’s –resulted in the need for a last minute replacement. 37-year-old Jorge ‘Fortaleza’ Gomes, a pro-fighter in attendance as a spectator was asked to officiate as a stand in.
"I was there to watch the event,” Gomes told MMA Fighting. “I'm not a referee, I’m a fighter. I’ve worked in a few fights before, but nothing big, only small shows. They had an issue with referees and the promoter got nervous, so he came to me, as I was in attendance with my wife, and asked me if I wanted to help him out.”
At some point in the fight, Silva shot in for a double leg and ended up stuck in a deep guillotine. He tried to fight the choke, but ended up going unconscious. Only, the referee didn’t think so and – despite Nunes’ telling the ref his opponent was out – he refused to wave off the bout.
"I caught him with a guillotine and he didn’t tap,” Nunes said. "I squeezed it and told the referee that he went out, but the referee said 'no.' I told him twice, but he checked his foot and hand and said 'no' even though I knew he was sleeping.”
That’s when Silva’s brother and cornerman, Dax Vinicius Silva, decided to hop the fence and take matters into his own hands.
Dax spoke to MMA Fighting about his actions, including his regret for jumping on Nunes, who he doesn’t seem to blame for what transpired. Still, with the ref unwilling to step in, he didn’t see any other choice.
"I was wrong for attacking 'Sombra,' but even with that he was still worried about my brother,” Dax Vinicius Silva said. "I was wrong, and I apologized to 'Sombra,' but I don’t think it was a mistake to enter the cage. When would the referee stop the fight? My brother could have had brain damage or even died. I admit that I made a mistake, but it’s not fair to criticize me. If I didn’t do that, people would be reaching out to me today saying, ‘I'm sorry for your brother’s death.”
For his part, Gomes defended himself, saying that he had decided to stop the fight at the point that Silva’s brother jumped into the cage, and that when he had checked on Silva earlier, he could feel the fighter resisting. He even recalled a conversation with Silva where the fighter told him not to stop the bout early.
“[Silva] told me not to interfere,” Gomes said of a chat with the fighter right before the bout, “and asked me to let it go because he would figure a way to win, that he would fight as long as he could handle."
MMA Fighting has the full story, including more details from Gomes, Silva’s brother, and Silmar Nunes, so check the whole thing out over there.