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Merab Dvalishvili’s appeal denied, UFC Atlantic City loss upheld by NJSACB

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Simon vs Dvalishvili Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Merab Dvalishvili’s appeal to overturn his loss to Ricky Simon earlier this month was denied today by New Jersey State Athletic Control Board (NJSACB), as commissioner Larry Hazzard concluded that the fight’s referee did not commit an error that would warrant a change in result.

In a letter sent to Dvalishvili’s manager, Matt Culleywhich, Hazzard explained his reasoning to uphold the decision.

“I do not find that (referee Liam) Kerrigan committed a self-evident and palpable error, or even any error which comes close to that standard,” Hazzard wrote. “Solely because a decision is disputed does not make such facially incorrect.”

Dvalishvili, who filed his appeal earlier this week, refused to tap after Simon applied a tight guillotine choke in the remaining moments of their bantamweight matchup last weekend at UFC Fight Night 128 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After the final bell sounded and Simon let go of the choke, Dvalishvili was clearly struggling to regain consciousness. After much deliberation, cageside officials declared that Dvalishvili was out, eventually awarding Simon a TKO (technical submission) victory.

“I was cageside and formed my own opinion that the conclusion was correct,” Hazzard wrote. “This was only reinforced as I watched the large monitor which was supplied in front of my cageside seat. Referee Marc Goddard provided his input to me cageside after he heard Counsel Lembo calling for the collection of the judges cards and the scoring of the third round. Mr. Lembo was of the opinion that the fight should be scored. There is nothing untoward about Goddard providing his input. “Polling” of cageside officials is an accepted practice. However, in this case, it may be irrelevant, as Goddard was only in agreement with Kerrigan’s original call and my review. There was no disagreement with Goddard about the attempt to determine the proper victor.”

Dvalishvili’s efforts were certainly admirable, especially since he kicked his feet for close to one minute in order to push through the choke, but the aftermath of the bout was too significant to ignore.

“Please be reminded that we do not need multiple seconds of unconsciousness,” Hazzard explained. “Also note that it is common for a contestant to have a momentary loss of consciousness but no recollection of such.”

Well, I guess that’s that.

Despite having his appeal denied and seeing this loss stick to his professional resume, at least Dvalishvili walked away with an additional $50,000 for Fight of the Night. The fact that he was winning the fight entering the third round certainly adds insult to injury, but the eventual result is yet another reminder that anything can happen at any time in this crazy sport.

Dvalishvili is an extremely talented fighter, evident by his early dominance over Simon, and should rebound nicely later this year in an attempt to stick out in an evolving UFC bantamweight division.

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