Cutelaba, who would later say that he was playing possum against Ankalaev, would appeal the loss to Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). The appeal has been heard by the DPOR and the commission has decided to deny Cutelaba’s appeal.
The DPOR’s full statement on the denied appeal is below (via MMA Fighting):
In response to your request for review, Regulation 18 VAC 120-40-411.14 states, in relevant part:
C. The department shall not change a decision rendered at the end of any contest unless:
3. The department determines through investigation there was a violation of this chapter that adversely impacted on the fairness of the contest or decision.
Therefore, absent evidence of a regulatory violation, the technical knockout (TKO) decision resulting from referee Kevin MacDonald’s stoppage of the February 29, 2020, bout between Ion Cutelaba and Magomed Ankalaev must stand.
I have reviewed the materials in this matter and the regulation applicable to your request. Section 18 VAC 120-40-190 enumerates the duties each assigned referee must perform, including the obligation to:
4. Immediately stop any contest when, in his judgment, one of the boxers or martial artists is outclassed by the other, injured, or otherwise unable to safely continue to participate in the contest;
10. Assure the health and well-being of the boxers and martial artists to the greatest extent possible.
There is no evidence to substantiate a claim that Referee MacDonald made his in-the-moment decisions based on any factor other than his best judgment to avoid injury to the participants. I find the account given by the referee, who has the authority and responsibility to stop a contest when he believes a participant is injured, to be credible. Whether video replay or popular opinion or hindsight makes one second guess a decision later is not at issue.
I do not find evidence of any regulatory violation. Accordingly, the TKO decision remains.