ONE Championship’s big debut on American television started out a bit of a debacle after former UFC champion, Eddie Alvarez, was disqualified from his fight against Iuri Lapicus for punches to the back of the head (details). Alvarez fans watching the event live insisted the shots were legal, or at the very least a result of Lapicus turning his head away from Alvarez. And of course we can’t have a disqualification via injury in mixed martial arts (MMA) without people claiming the downed fighter is acting.
The ONE on TNT broadcasters seemed too shocked to really process the incident as minutes ticked by with Lapicus slowly being stretchered out of the cage and Alvarez swinging between anger and tears. Fortunately, now we have former UFC commentator, Dan Hardy, here to breakdown the final moments of the fight and what exactly happened.
“Lapicus, he’s driving on the underside of Eddie’s chin with his hand,” Hardy explained. “The reason he’s doing this is to try and alleviate some of the pressure that Eddie’s creating with his head toward Lapicus. He’s driving his head into the fence here to keep Lapicus in that position. And what Lapicus wants to do is create a little bit of space so he can bring his head from where it is to the inside so he can start to work up and maybe use that overhook, free a leg.
“He’s in a twister position right here, you can see this foot’s facing this way, his hips are facing this way, and his shoulders and head are facing the other way. So that kind of zig-zag cross that Eddie’s got him tied up in nullifies a lot of his movement.”
“So this is where it gets a bit chaotic,” he continued. “Eddie’s got him tied up here and he’s in a position where he can land punches but they’re in a very precarious position. The referee leansover in a moment and warns him about these being back of the head. And it’s almost like Eddie doubles down on the fact that it’s not an illegal shot and goes to town. The problem is as soon as the referee warns him again about back of the head, then immediately Lapicus starts to play up to it.”
“Now this is where it gets frustrating. Because we can all see that Lapicus is playing up to the referee. We know he’s not that hurt. For a start he’s holding the wrong side of his head. He was hit on this side of the head and now he’s holding on to the other side. So this is what frustrates people and what gets people very animated about the decision the ref made to DQ Eddie.
“The unfortunate reality is the target area was illegal,” Hardy concluded. “They were illegal shots. The fact that the opponent was turning his head away doesn’t make those shots any less illegal. If I start a fight and I walk out backwards Genki Sudo style and they blast me on the back of the head, that’s still their fault because they’re targeting an area that’s an illegal shot.”
“Lapicus’s ear is basically on Eddie’s cheek. And for Eddie to catch the ear at all, he’s gonna have to get around the hand that’s pushing on his chin. So that’s not a shot where he’s hitting ear at all. That is pretty much targeting top of the neck, base of the skull which is an illegal strike and there’s a reason for this.”
Hardy then went on to detail a fight back in his Cage Warriors days where an opponent not only cheap-shotted him off the fist bump but hit him with an elbow directly the to back of the head. Hardy doesn’t remember anything about the fight past that moment, and had nerve issues to slowly heal from.
“For probably three or four months after that fight, I had numbness on the whole side of my face,” Hardy said. “I kept biting the inside of my cheek to where it would bleed and that’s how I knew I was biting it. It was weird, like the whole side of my face was numb. And I had damaged the nerves in the back of my neck. And fortunately it was swelling that had caused the numbness and after a few months it kind of came back.”
“The reason that area is illegal is that area is such a vulnerable area. The whole body relies on that area to run the whole body, and it’s not encased in bone like the brain is. It’s a vulnerable area and that’s why we watch out for it.”
For complete ONE on TNT 1 results, including live play-by-play coverage, click here.