At UFC on ESPN+ 35, Mike Rodriguez kneed Ed Herman in the liver, and the effect was such that after another shot to the body, “Short Fuse” dropped to the ground and appeared unable to defend himself. The finish was seconds away, at most. However, bafflingly, referee Chris Tognoni assumed there had been a low blow, and stopped the action.
Herman is so tough, he eventually came back and won via submission.
And then he tried to explain it away immediately post-fight.
To be clear, the referee made an honest mistake. Herman’s reaction was neither honest, nor a mistake.
At the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White ripped the ref, with literally his worst insult about an MMA official.
“It’s hard not to bang on this guy – the worst I’ve ever seen,” said White, as transcribed by Damon Martin for MMA Fighting. “He’s f***ing [Steve] Mazzagatti-level. Some Mazzagatti-level s*** right there. That was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.
“That kid wins by knockout, technical knockout and loses the fight. One of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Disgusting.”
“I was all over [the Nevada Athletic Commission] tonight about replay. We have to have replay. There’s gotta be replay. All you’ve got to do is look at the f**king replay that’s playing 6,000 times while Herman’s on the ground to say, ‘Oh sh*t I made a mistake.’ Not only did that happen, but he goes ‘Time!’ And Mike Rodriguez goes, ‘Time? What do you mean time? Fight’s over.’ Then they start fighting again, he knocks him down again, and hits him with like 15 punches and elbows and he still doesn’t stop it.
“I thought Ed Herman owed that guy money or something. Like what the f*** did Ed Herman do to this guy? Only Ed Herman could have pulled that off, cause that guy is so damn tough. You can’t see everything. They’re human. You can’t see everything. That’s a tough one. How you think that is a groin kick is next level nuts, but whatever it happens but what are you going to do? It happened.”
“I’m telling you, nobody has ever f***ed up more than Mazzagatti, and that was a Mazzagatti moment right there for that guy,” White said. “It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. It was over. The fight was finished.
“That’s like him being knocked out and f***ing lets give him time to wake up and he can fight again. Literally what it was like. Then as soon as he stood up, the whole side of his body was as red as red could be.”
“That’s what I was really worried about. This kid gets robbed like that, and he’s got a broken arm. He doesn’t have a broken arm. He’s OK, which is awesome.
“We’re giving Mike his win money, too. He won the f***ing fight.”
Rodriguez’s manager Tyson Chartier says he plans an appeal, but the standard to overturn an official’s action is very high. Ordinarily, it requires collusion (someone bribed a ref), ignorance of the rules (the ref didn’t know where the groin is on the human body), or a math error (a judge added up the scores wrong). That standard was not met here. A rematch would be appropriate.