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Midnight Mania! Merab Dvalishvili rages over referee Marc Goddard, early stoppages: ‘Let us fight til we can’t anymore’

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Merab Dvalishvili is not happy with longtime UFC referee Marc Goddard.

The two have a long history, as Goddard is at least partially responsible for Dvalishvili’s most recent loss to Ricky Simon, which happened back in April 2018. Dvalishvili won the vast majority of the 15-minute fight, but he found himself trapped in a tight guillotine in the closing second of the fight. Dvalishvili pumped his legs until the bell in an attempt to prove that he was conscious, but Goddard assisted the referee in deeming him asleep at the bell.

Frankly, it was a pretty unprecedented situation, so I’m not sure there was a right or wrong call really. Still, it’s a touch ironic that Goddard was in charge for the UFC 292 main event, which saw Sean O’Malley dethrone Aljamain Sterling — Dvalishvili’s good friend and training partner — via second-round knockout. The only problem? Some viewers, like color commentator Joe Rogan, deemed it an early stoppage.

Dvalishvili agrees, and he admitted to having a phobia of Goddard after the pair of incidents in a lengthy rant.

“I have “markgoddardphobia” not only because of what happen last Saturday,” Dvalishvili wrote on Facebook. “He was cageside ref when I fought Ricky Simon in 2018. After I fought hard in the last minute to not tap out from a choke, I made it to the bell.

“The main ref in the cage let me fight til the end because he saw I was not sleeping and kept moving to show i was still fighting to the end. So Mark Goddard didn’t let them use the judges score which i dominated first two rounds. He pushed everyone to say I lost consciousness in the middle of the choke but I was never out. First they say i lost to TKO but now if you check my record they changed it to a technical submission. Any new fans that didn’t see this fight ... go check it out and let me know what you think. We work so hard ... are ready to die in the cage ... Let us fight til we can’t fight anymore.”

Officiating a cage fight is neither a glorious nor lucrative profession. It’s a challenging job, one where mistakes carry severe consequences for the athletes. Goddard is a well-respected pro with a better track record than most, and I don’t think either of Dvalishvili’s examples are egregious — they more fall along the lines of debatable. Perhaps Dvalishvili will request not to have Goddard as his referee in the future, as fighters do have that option.


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