Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Sarah Alpar at UFC Vegas 11 may give Mike Rodriguez's appeal a shot in the arm.
Referee Chris Tognoni was at the center of confusion two weeks in a row.
At UFC Vegas 10, he incorrectly assessed a legal — likely fight-ending — body shot from Rodriguez as a low blow. Instead of consulting the replay, he allowed Ed Herman time to recover. Herman eventually submitted Rodriguez in a fight "M-Rod" likely should have won.
At UFC Vegas 11, Clark shattered Alpar's face with a knee. Tognoni incorrectly read the play as a potentially illegal shot. This time, Tognoni consulted the replay and deemed the shot legal. Instead of waving off the bout, however, the referee ruled that Alpar was fit to continue and allowed her to take a prolonged beating before awarding Clark the stoppage win.
Rodriguez's manager, Tyson Chartier, spoke with Fightful immediately after the Clark-Alpar fight and explained how it could bolster Rodriguez's appeal with the Nevada State Athletic Commission to overturn the Herman fight.
"I think it shows the referee is very confused with the process and is not consistent with the process," Chartier said of Tognoni. "It almost shows a pattern of — not negative behavior because he's not doing it maliciously — but sub-standard behavior. Two weeks in a row he has made a call that didn't happen."
"The way I understand the ruling to be is that you make the call, you pull, you look at the replay and then you jump back in and say, 'Hey, are you ready to go? Okay, cool.' Last week, he didn't do any of that. He made the call, didn't pull anyone, didn't ask for the replay, stopped there and just gave the guy [Herman] time to recover and let the fight continue," Chartier added. "In both of them, he made the wrong call. I think it shows a pattern of sub-standard behavior. There needs to be some sort of checks-and-balances."
Chartier recommends athletic commissions have a second referee cage-side for the primary referee to "lean on" more regularly. The manager also revealed this is the first time he has ever appealed a call.
There is a lot of confusion over the use of instant replay. UFC makes it clear during the broadcast that it can only be used in a "fight-ending sequence" but the commission's official language says it can be utilized at any time. Fans and media are equally confused about the messaging.
"I think it's the fight commission," Chartier said of who is most responsible for the confusion. "Hopefully, at the very least, this appeal can clear that up."
UFC Vegas 11 took place on Saturday, September 19 from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada with Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley headlining. Fightful provided live coverage of the event, which streamed live on ESPN+.