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Headbutts galore! UFC London is another event marred by awful officiating

UFC Fight Night: Diakiese v Alvarez Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

What’s the purpose of referees inside the Octagon?

There are a number of answers. Most importantly, referees are in charge of keeping fighters safe, usually by calling fights before anyone takes an unreasonable amount of damage. However, referees are also there to maintain order. MMA is a wild world of chaos, and it’s up to the referees to prevent things from getting ugly.

Things got ugly at UFC London.

Specifically, there were two really bad instances of head clashes, one that I would argue as a straight up headbutt. Each incident was handled different, but neither were handled correctly.

Joel Alvarez vs. Marc Diakiese was an interesting fight. The first round was entirely a kickboxing match, with Alvarez landed more often and a bit heavier. Diakiese switched it up in the second and scored an easy takedown, racking up a couple minutes of top control time (and zero strikes landed).

When Alvarez scrambled back to his feet, Diakiese was real tired. The 6’3” Lightweight swarmed him, landing strikes and shucking off takedowns. Just as he appeared to be building towards a legitimate finish, the two collided temples, and Diakiese was badly hurt.

Let me be clear: this was an incidental is it gets. Alvarez did not fire his forehead into Diakiese’s jaw. They were both moving their heads. However, it was a clear collision, and Diakiese even signaled to the ref. Alvarez gave him a moment to interfere ... but nothing happened. So, he instead followed up and scored a tainted finish.

I fully believe that Alvarez was en route to a finish anyway, but that’s a bad way to win a fight. If London was able to use replays, the bout probably would’ve been overturned to a “No Contest” instantly like Kevin Holland’s bout against Kyle Daukaus. Instead, the result stands barring an official appeal, and those never amount to anything.

By my count, that’s two failures: the referee missing a clear clash, and then the commission not being able to effectively review the moment.

Later on the main card, Paul Craig vs. Andre Muniz was another oddball fight. Firstly, why where the two allowed to get nose-to-nose with only 66-year-old Bruce Buffer keeping them separate? What’s the point of all these security guards?

At any rate, the two grapplers put on an entertaining fight once they hit the mat in the second. Muniz scored a sweet reversal into top position, at which point he promptly dive-bombed Craig’s chin with a perfect headbutt. It was technical excellence, forehead straight into the jawline like a battering ram.

Not even the referee could miss this full-on headbutt! He paused the action and returned them to their feet, which is good. What wasn’t good was neglecting to take a point for a very obviously illegal and damaging blow. This was no accident or unfortunate moment where one fighter steps into an illegal low kick. I believe in leniency, because again, MMA is chaos and a grey area will also be necessary.

This foul was calculated, and it should have been punished more severely.

Otherwise, there was another classically bad judges decision that saw Daniel Marcos controversially beat Davey Grant. Reviewing the judges more would feel like beating a dead horse — we know they’re terrible. At least when the judges are bad, nobody gets additional brain damage.

For complete UFC London: “Aspinall vs. Tybura” results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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