Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos had been on a skid over the last year and a half. At UFC 256 in December, “Cigano” lost his fourth straight fight at the hands of undefeated contender Cyril Gane.
Dos Santos lost via TKO in the second round after absorbing a clean elbow to the side of the head. However, many argued that the strike may have landed at the back of the head, making it illegal.
On January 15, Dos Santos’ team filed an appeal to the Nevada Athletic Commission, citing a possible misinterpretation of the rules on referee Jerin Valel’s part. Ultimately, they want the TKO to be overturned to a No Contest. The Commission, however, denied the request, stating it “did not sufficiently describe” what the supposed misinterpretation was.
Team dos Santos is apparently re-filing the appeal. In a March 17 letter sent by attorney Ana Guedes (obtained by MMA Junkie), they provided more details.
“We have not and do not allege that the referee did not see the foul; rather, he saw the blow to the back of Junior’s head, but as a result of his misinterpretation of the rule, he wrongly failed to call it a foul, and he wrongly awarded a victory to the offending contestant, Cyril Gane.”
Team Dos Santos further pointed out Valel’s supposed mistakes and where the misinterpretation may have happened.
“The referee added his own exception to the rule: He explained, both in the octagon and again in the locker room post-fight, that because Gane’s forearm touched Junior’s ear, the elbow aimed directly at Junior’s brain stem area was somehow rendered legal.
“That was the basis of the referee’s determination that a foul had not occurred, and that is a complete misinterpretation of the rule, whose plain language provides no such exception.”