In the action packed sport of MMA, basically anything can happen within the confines of the cage. Radical changes happen in an instant, and the only thing that is certain; is uncertainty. While there are two combatants, three judges and one referee. Sometimes that referee can get things wrong, missing fouls or not reacting quick enough when a knockout happens. Additionally, there are instances where a fighter taps and it is unseen, or where a referee stops a bout without a clear tap. Today we discuss those such circumstances; here are 10 times a submission (or lack thereof) was controversial.
10. Bobby Moffett vs Chas Skelly
When Bobby Moffett took on Chas Skelly on the UFC’s 25th anniversary card, he was expecting to win. However, what he did not expect was that his win would come riddled with controversy. He locked up a d’arce choke on Skelly, who proceeded to do what he was supposed to by rotating around with the choke. However, the referee somehow thought he was unconscious, stopping the fight. Understandably so, Skelly went on to protest the loss, but to no avail.
9. Gleison Tibau vs Abel Trujillo
When referee Keith Peterson stopped the bout between Gleison Tibau and Abel Trujillo, Trujillo was shocked. Although Tibau was working for a rear naked choke at UFC Fight Night 77, Trujillo had yet to submit. In fact, he was actually posting up on his hands, trying to work his way out. Luckily, in this case Trujillo was able to get the loss overturned.
8. Danny Roberts vs Claudio Silva
A verbal submission can be a tricky thing to call. It would make sense for a fight to be stop when a fighter calls for it to be stopped. However, sometimes a fighter makes a noise of pain (imagine that, being put in an armbar hurts), and this will cause a ref to step in. This was the case when Danny Roberts took on Claudio Silva at UFC London. Roberts was caught in an armbar when he tried to power out of it. In doing so, he let out a yelp, and the referee stepped in. This is especially unfortunate, considering he had managed to escape the submission.
7. Tito Ortiz vs Chael Sonnen
This will not be the first appearance of Chael Sonnen on this list, however in this instance he was taking on Tito Ortiz in Bellator. It was here, that Tito managed to weasel his way out of having tapped to a submission. Clearly, he tapped here, before Chael loosened the grip and Tito escaped.
6. Ricky Simon vs Merab Dvalishvili
This is another really tricky call that had to be made. When these two Bantamweights faced off in 2018, it was a decent match. However, towards the end of the third and final round, Simon clamped on to a mounted guillotine. It was here that the rest of the bout was spent. When the final horn buzzed though, Dvalishvili stayed on the ground for a moment before getting up. It was not until the bout was ruled a (T)KO victory in favor of Simon that it was realized that Merab Dvalishvili had actually gone unconscious before the bell. Much to Merab’s disdain, even though he did not tap, he still lost.
5. Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen
One of the most infamous entries on this list, this bout is legendary. Sonnen beat the brakes off of Anderson Silva across four and a half rounds. It was not until the middle of the fifth and final round, that Silva pulled off the hail mary triangle armbar to secure the victory. Sonnen saw it another way though, denying having tapped out. Unfortunately for Sonnen, the rematch would see a much less exciting result, with Silva taking him out cleanly.
4. Seth Baczynski vs Tim McKenzie
A much more low profile bout than most on the list, this bout took place at Tachi Palace Fights 7. However, the fact this may not be as widely known does not take away from how egregious this mistake was. When McKenzie locked in the armbar off his back, it seemed like Baczynski tapped. So the gentleman that he is, Tim McKenzie let go. Unfortunately this happened before the ref saw the tap, so Seth Baczynski proceeded to use the opportunity to free his arm and elbow McKenzie into living death.
3. Matt Lindland vs Murilo Bustamante
A bit of “an oldie but a goodie” situation, this bout took place way back in 2002. It goes down as a classic submission, having been featured on UFC’s Ultimate Submissions. However, if you look closely, you can see that this was not a submission at all! Matt Lindland clearly did not tap, despite what “Big” John McCarthy saw.
2. Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas
When Rose Namajunas knocked out the long reigning strawweight queen, all anybody could think was “THUG ROSE!” It was not until after the dust had settled that people began to realize that it may not have been a knockout, but instead a submission. Joanna denied it, but it was plain as day. It is okay Joanna, everybody knows the truth.
1. Stipe Miocic vs Alistair Overeem
C’mon, did you really expect another number one? The clearest of all examples, the most despicable moment in all of combat sports history. This moment was the moment in which all doubt in the UFC’s integrity was solidified. When Alistair said Stipe tapped and he felt it, we all felt it. Stipe is a dirty cheat, and Overeem should be facing Daniel Cormier.