The headliner fight of the UFC’s event in Orlando over the weekend ended in controversy. Similar to both UFC 210 and UFC 211, the standing rule on landing knee strikes on a grounded opponent was the main issue.
After Jeremy Stephens landed a left hook that dropped Josh Emmett, he immediately followed it up with some elbows and a knee strike. Emmett, however, still had his right hand and both knees on the mat making him a grounded opponent, which technically makes Stephens’ knee strike illegal.
Stephens ended up being awarded the second-round knockout win, but it was not met without questions of whether or not the right decision was made. Emmett only got to see the fight replay on Sunday morning after he was bombarded with text messages about it.
Instead of pinning the blame on his opponent, the Team Alpha Male fighter questioned referee Dan Miragliotta’s supposed non-action on the illegal strike.
“I’m not saying (Stephens is) a dirty fighter at all, but after watching it, I just wish I had more of a fair chance,” Emmett said on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting). “I wish Dan would have done his job. If he would have stopped the fight, I would have gotten a little time to recover or they maybe took a point away from Stephens. It could have been a completely different outcome.”
“I just thought it was a blow. I didn’t know what hit me. But it definitely skimmed me after watching it and coming down. And regardless of the new rules or the old rules, I was still a downed opponent, because both knees were down. Even if one hand or two hands were up, it was still an illegal blow.”
Emmett suffered a broken orbital bone after the fight, which he intends to have surgery on once he gets back to Sacramento. But at the same time, he is hoping to have another chance at Stephens, especially since he felt he was winning the exchanges up until he was hit.
“I would like a rematch. I won the first round, I was winning the second round, doing really well,” Emmett said. “He caught me just perfect, little left hook on the chin. I was composing, getting back up and then I just felt like some of those illegal blows made it a lot worse for me.”
The loss to Stephens snapped Emmett’s two-fight win streak, and he now holds a record of 13-2 (with six wins by stoppage).