Nelson apologizes for kick to ref but ‘wouldn’t take it back’

Sunday, September 25, 2016

At UFC Fight Night 95, heavyweight Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson defeated Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva via strikes at 4:10 of Round 2. There was no celebration, however. The pair are friends, and Nelson felt that the fight was not stopped soon enough.

In fact, Nelson called for McCarthy to stop the fight as he threw the final five blows, which it was moments later. John McCarthy is the dean of MMA referees and knows as well as anyone on Earth when a fight should be stopped. He knows better than Roy Nelson, for example. And Nelson’s opinion was honorably biased by the fact that he was fighting his friend.

Nelson stormed away clearly furious and then turned around. As ‘Big’ John McCarthy bent over the downed Silva, Nelson walked up from behind and kicked the referee. The kick was not done to inflict harm, but rather as an expression of frustration. Then the fighter walked away and flipped McCarthy off.

Nelson apologized, and at the UFC Fight Night 95 post-fight press conference argued that it wasn’t a kick

“It was a push,” said Nelson, as transcribed by Shaun Al-Shatti for MMA Fighting. “It was more of like, dude, come on.

“We had a conversation in the cage. I was like, ‘Dude, he was knocked out.’ And [McCarthy] was like, ‘No, he wasn’t.’ And I’m like, dude, I know what a knockout is. I knock people out. That’s what I do for a living. I know what a knockout is. Just because the guy didn’t roll his eyes into the back of his head, or shake, or whatever … it was just one of those things.”

“I didn’t want to hurt ‘Bigfoot’ more than I had to. And I got taken by the moment, because it’s like a cop beating the s*** out of somebody and you’re like, dude, enough is enough. And for me, it hurt my feelings. And I apologize to Big John, but I wouldn’t take it back. It just hurt me, that I’ve got to keep on hitting a guy that doesn’t need to be hit.”

“I knew I already knocked him out with my first punch, and then I got him one more time. In my head, it was like slow-mo, like I’m having a conversation with John going, ‘hey man, how is the weather over there?’ That’s what it felt like. I’m friends with ‘Bigfoot,’ and he has a family. I don’t need to keep on punching him in his face. And it’s not one of those [things] like, if I hit him so hard that he fell flat on his face, I would’ve just walked off like Mark Hunt. But he fell on his back.

“It wasn’t like he was so far away. He was over here to my side, and I know I had a conversation. I’m like, ‘he’s out.’ He’s like, ‘no he’s not, keep on moving.’ So for me, I feel like I’m giving ‘Bigfoot’ extra damage, where he doesn’t actually need to get hit that much.”

At UFC Fight Night 42 in 2014, Jason High felt referee Kevin Mulhall stopped the fight prematurely in awarding the win to Rafael Dos Anjos, and shoved Mulhall. High apologized in person, and on his social network. However, he was released from his UFC contract. The regulatory body too took action, suspending High for a year, and fining him 10% of his purse.


“You don’t ever, ever f—ing touch a referee, ever,” said UFC president Dana White at the time. “You’re done here. He’s been apologizing on Twitter, but he’s done.”

For reasons that have not been explained, there was a markedly different reaction in Brazil. UFC general manager of Brazil Giovani Decker said he would defer to the Comissao Atletica Brasileira de MMA (CABMMA), the regulatory body in Brazil.

“I think when they’re in the cage, they got a little hotheaded,” said Decker to MMAjunkie. “And it’s up for the commission to judge them – not the UFC.”

MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz spoke to CABMMA director Cristiano Sampaio, who said the commission needed to hear from the referee.

“CABMMA tells me Roy Nelson is subject to punishment if Big John McCarthy files a complaint,” tweeted Cruz.

There is no word yet from McCarthy, who has now been put in the unfortunate position of being the arbiter over whether a fighter can in frustration and anger “push” a ref on the ass with his foot and flip him off, or not. If it is accurate that “you don’t ever, ever f—ing touch a referee, ever,” then the touched referee should not have to be the decision maker.