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UFC 252: Ref Marc Goddard apologizes for missing fight-changing eye poke during Miocic-Cormier 3

A bad eye poke in round 3 blemished an otherwise amazing trilogy fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. Now ref Marc Goddard is apologizing for missing it.

UFC 252: Miocic v Cormier 3 Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

There’s a lot of debate in MMA circles about who the best and worst refs in the sport are. And while we may not agree on who we think is the sharpest and most consistent of the bunch, one trait you gotta acknowledge as a sign of a true pro is the ability to admit when you’re wrong.

Referee Herb Dean took a lot of slack following his refusal to cop to an obvious late stoppage on Fight Island in July. So it’s a refreshing change of pace to see UFC 252 ref Marc Goddard take full responsibility for missing what was undoubtedly a fight altering eye poke during the Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier heavyweight title fight (watch the highlights here).

If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s pretty nasty: Stipe Miocic sticks out his hand at the end of round three and puts a finger deep into Cormier’s left eye, leaving him blind in one eye for the rest of the fight. Cormier complained but Goddard insisted the two continue fighting, telling “DC” between rounds it was a punch and not a poke that hurt him. But the replay doesn’t lie:

So Goddard did what more humans should do when reality disagrees with their perspective on things: he owned up to his mistake.

“I practice what I preach & as a man I stand tall & head on,” Goddard wrote on social media. “If you accept plaudits then you must with mistakes too, that’s proof that you are listening, honest & implore improvement. Rough with the smooth, acceptance & ownership. Immediately after the fight when seeing the replay I apologised to Daniel Cormier & his team & I do so publicly & unreservedly for missing what I shouldn’t have - but I cannot call what I do not see. I don’t have replays & multiple angles, it’s a one shot take in real time.”

“I cannot convey just how much I have both lived & loved this sport for the past 20 years,” he concluded. “I truly appreciate all who understand.”

What a classy move.

Not that any of it will change the outcome: what the ref decides in the moment is considered the official record. It’s extremely rare that a fight result gets overturned as a result of a ref missing a foul (or seeing it and refusing to dock points or DQ a fighter). Which is really too bad for “DC” because if Goddard had called the poke, there’s a very good chance the fight would have ended up a No Contest.

As satisfying for the fans as the dramatic fourth and fifth rounds made things? No. But certainly more just for Cormier.

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