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Thiago Tavares to appeal bizarre groin shot TKO loss at PFL 2

In Illinois, you can absorb an illegal strike and lose by TKO, as PFL’s Thiago Tavares found out.


On a night filled with crazy and unusual outcomes, the most confusing ending to a fight at Thursday’s PFL 2 card in Chicago came courtesy of lightweights Thiago Tavares and Robert Watley.

Early in round two, Watley clearly struck Tavares with a kick to the groin. There’s no grey area here, Tavares’ nether regions got bashed.

The former UFC fighter was in considerable pain, and when he attempted to get up on one occasion, he went right back down to the ground. After the five minutes had elapsed, with Tavares not in position to continue, the fight was called off by referee Keith Peterson. You would assume that this means a no-contest for an accidental low blow, but somehow this goes into the books as a Robert Watley TKO win.

You’re probably as confused as everyone else was just reading that last sentence. This was what the former LFA champion had to say post-fight.

“I have to really apologize to Thiago,” Watley told MMAjunkie. “We hugged it out. He was like, ‘You know, it happens. It’s part of the fight game.’ We just kind of hugged and embraced. Now I have another fight to prepare for.”

“I still feel it on the outside of my shin,” he added. “I know I either connected on another bone of his, or I hit the cup.”

Tavares told MMA Fighting that he wasn’t given reason for why the fight was called a no-contest, and that he was in the hospital after still experiencing pain in his groin and abdomen. He plans to appeal the loss, but it’s hard to see how this will be overturned, considering that Illinois’ own rules state that a low-blow TKO is possible:

A contestant who is hit with an accidental low-blow must continue after a reasonable amount of time, but no more than 5 minutes, or he or she may lose the bout by technical knockout.

Yes, that is truly bizarre. In Illinois, you can throw an illegal strike, have it deemed unintentional, and if you don’t recover in time, you actually lose by TKO because... the commission said so. A spokesperson for the commission said that state rules supersede the Unified Rules of MMA when events are held in Illinois.

So thanks to other results from the card, Robert Watley was the only lightweight to win within two rounds, so he tops the division’s regular season standings with 5 points, courtesy of a low blow. I wish I was making that up, but silly state rules just significantly affected the race for the $1 million prize.

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