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Several days have passed since his controversial loss to Ricky Simon at UFC Fight Night 128, but Merab Dvalishvili is still trying to pick up the pieces and figure out what happened.
In what was seemingly a first in UFC history, Simon (13-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) was awarded a TKO victory at UFC Fight Night 128 despite Dvalishvili (7-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC) making it to the final horn of their bantamweight fight.
Dvalishvili, 27, was arguably getting the better of Simon until the late stages of the preliminary-card matchup at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. Then, as Dvalishvili shot in for a takedown, Simon applied a guillotine choke, which was locked in for roughly the final 50 seconds of the fight. Although Dvalishvili did not tap, the referee deemed him unable to continue at the 5:00 mark of Round 3. Simon was announced the winner by TKO.
Dvalishvili told MMAjunkie Radio today that he still hasn’t received a formal explanation from the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board about its decision process, and he remains perplexed by how his current reality came to be.
“I’m still in shock,” Dvalishvili said. “I’m shocked. I don’t know what happened. I win fight; everyone thinks I won fight. Everyone. I controlled fight and one minute left I tried to take him down, stay on top, finish on top. But when I take him down, I hit my head on the floor. I feel something is not right. I focused only on the time. I tried to stay in. I moved my legs. I was fighting the hands also, my eyes open. I never stopped. I kept fighting, kept showing everyone that I’m not sleeping from 55 seconds until finish.”
Since the fight on Saturday, various parties have come out and given their side of the story. Simon has no doubt Dvalishvili was “limp” from the choke at the final bell, and referee Marc Goddard, who was cageside for the bout, insists the right call was made because of Dvalishvili’s condition when time expired.
Dvalishvili rejects those notions. He said staying down on the canvas at the bell was a product of trying to recover from the exhausting 15-minute fight he’d just competed in – nothing more. Once those feelings passed, Dvalishvili got to his feet and began to celebrate what, to many, seemed like would be a decision win, which is how the judges had it scored in a split.
That didn’t happen, though.
“When time is over I laid down, but I was still moving my legs,” Dvalishvili said. “My opponent pointed his fingers to me and said, ‘He’s out.’ I just took two seconds to breath, and I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ The commission told me, ‘Stay down, don’t move.’ Of course I was tired. I stayed down and got rest, because I knew I won the fight.
“I celebrated, I jump to cage, and I celebrate my win.”
Dvalishvili is certain he’s been wronged and intends to take action to rectify the matter. His manager told MMAjunkie that plans could soon be in motion to file an appeal of the result, but those processes are often long, drawn out and end in an unsatisfying outcome. Dvalishvili is aware of as much, and he said one way to give him some peace over the situation would be to book a rematch in short order.
“I want a rematch,” Dvalishvili said. “As soon as possible. He’s good opponent. I know he’s good.”
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.
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