Ross Pearson faced the toughest test of his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) career when he squared off with Melvin Guillard in the co-main event of last night's (Oct. 26, 2013) UFC Fight Night 30 from Phones 4U Arena in Manchester, England.
Pearson knocked out two straight opponents since returning to the Lightweight fold. He also had the full roaring support of his homeland fans behind him, but he needed much more than that to defeat the lightning-fast Guillard.
As advertised, the bout began with Guillard winging some big punches at Pearson. "Real Deal" utilized good Octagon control while avoiding "Young Assassin" shots. It was only a matter of time before Guillard opened up his game. He landed on top after a scramble and began to score several brutal knees. The referee stopped the fight to determine if one or more of the knees were illegal and the result was an unfortunate one for the motivated Manchester fans.
The fight got called off because of a huge cut (see pic here) that was opened up on Pearson. Guillard's knees could have been ruled either way -- the second big one he landed appeared to hit Pearson when he slightly had his hand on the canvas. With the bout declared a very controversial "No Contest," Pearson apologized to the fans while pleading for a rematch.
After the questionable ending, UFC decided that Pearson and Guillard will rematch at a yet-to-be-determined event next March. That's the obviously correct decision. Although Pearson looked like he was in big trouble, by ruling he was hit with an illegal shot that changed the fight. Pearson was doing a good job of staying clear of Guillard's power for a while, but ultimately he looked outclassed.
It may have been too early to say.
There's bound to be outcry over the rule of kneeing an opponent with a hand on the ground. In the heat of battle, it's nearly impossible for a fighter with the striking speed of Guillard to stop mid-action when he sees his opponent's fingertips graze the mat. It's a technicality that's always going to be left up to interpretation. It also provides a chance for a fighter who's in trouble to earn an unwarranted break from being pummeled.
This was an extreme case; the split-second amount of time that Pearson touched the may or may not have been exactly when he was hit.
In any case, it raises an interesting debate concerning MMA rulings. Should the hand on the ground rule be revisited so it's not always up to the judgment of a referee without the benefit of instant replay? Would instant replay put an end to many of these close calls? Let us know your thoughts on the touchy subject!
Melvin Guillard appeared ready to overtake Ross Pearson with his lethal strikes, but a highly controversial illegal knee put an end to the bout after a huge gash was opened on "Real Deal's" forehead. Will Pearson fare any better when the two rematch next March?