ufc fight night 38

UFC Fight Night 38 recap: A night of underdogs and controversial refereeing

UFC Fight Night 38 took place in Natal, Brazil on a rare Sunday evening event for the UFC. The second UFC event in Brazil of the year saw a bad night for the Brazilian contingent competing on the event–going (5-5-1). A night of underdogs prevailing and an unusual amount of inconsistent and poor refereeing took place. So much so that the controversy may have over shadowed an otherwise entertaining event, which saw a deviate from the norm with 7 of the 11 fights ending in a finish.

A total of 9 underdogs prevailed over their favored opponents on the card–excluding the one draw between Leonardo Santos and Norman Parke, which included some of the night’s inconsistent refereeing. And including the main event, which 2-to-1 underdog, Dan Henderson once again defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, this time with a devastating 3 round TKO courtesy of his famous H-Bomb. The most notable and biggest underdog being +540 Thiago “Marreta” Santos, who used a liver kick to score a TKO victory over the highly favored Ronny Markes. In fact, the only favourite to win on this card was TUF Brazil 1 winner, Rony “Jason” Bezerra over underdog Steven Siler, but even that did not occur without some controversy.

Inconsistent refereeing first reared it’s head in the Jussier “Formiga” Da Silva vs Scott Jorgensen fight–when referee Wernei Cardoso–who would be in the middle of the majority of tonight’s refereeing blunders—missed a headbutt that led to a knockdown of Jorgensen. The headbutt unnoticed had visible effect on the outcome as Jorgensen later tweeted that he woke up and was caught in the rear naked choke.


On the other hand, Jussier “Formiga” disagreed and felt differently, saying a the post-fight press conference that he did not think the ‘headbutt’ had an affect on the outcome of the fight.

“It wasn’t exactly a headbutt,” Formiga said, “I came in and we moved at the same time and we ended up clashing. But I don’t think it affected anything. It wasn’t strictly a headbutt.”

A second reffing incident occurred in the opening bout of the main card, which saw Rony “Jason” Bezerra knock down opponent Steven Siler with a left hand combination–leading to referee Wernei Cardoso quickly putting a halt to the bout. Silver who at the time seemed still conscious and aware of his surroundings, ended up throwing an upkick–nearly hitting the referee–before getting up and protesting the stoppage. Siler still distraught by the stoppage took to twitter post-fight to air his thoughts.


The strangest and maybe most confusing refereeing came from veteran referee Mario Yamasaki, in the fight between Michel Prazeres and Mairbek Taisumov. Taisumov was seen grabbing the cage in the first round in an attempt to defend a takedown, however the point was not taken until well after a few minutes had passed. This led to confusing whether or not the point was taken from a perceived illegal upkick or for something else, which after some back and forth ended up being the fence grab. In the 2nd round, after Taisumov committed the same violation, Yamasaki did not hesitate to take a 2nd point from the fighter–both without warning. However when Taisumov did it again in the third, he was warned for the first and final time that if he were to grab the cage again, he would be disqualified.

Ultimately there was no disqualification, but there was a moment in the 3rd where it came very close. I have no problem with taking a point away from a fighter for a fence grab, it is a clear violation of the rules and is usually meant with several less than strict warnings and is rare to see a fighter deducted a point. The only way the grabbing of the cage is going to cease is with a referee like tonight that consistently deducts a point from the offending fighter. But because some referees are more linnet when it comes to the foul, it surprises a lot of fighters and fans when one like Mario decides he’s going to immediately take a point without warning. Thus, consistency between the referees must be established overall.

And finally, the point deduction that resulted in the Norman Parke vs Leonardo Santos fight that caused the final result to be a draw saw more inconsistency. As referee Wernei Cardoso deducted a point from Norman Parke for grabbing the shorts of Santos on a takedown attempt, while at the same time Santos had grabbed the fence to prevent the takedown. The referee was in a poor position to see the fence grab, but none the less deducted the point from Parker without warning.

As you can tell, Norman Parke was not happy about the draw post-fight.

And overall, UFC President Dana White was unhappy about the refereeing on tonight’s card as well.




Amongst all the poor refereeing that took place on the card, was one referee who redeemed himself from his recent controversial performances on past cards, Herb Dean, who did a great job in the main event. Nearly stopping the fight at the end of the fight at the end of the first round, but held off and gave Dan Henderson a chance to survive the round and come out fighting in the 2nd and 3rd–which in hindsight turned out to be the right decision.

The full recap and play-by-play of the UFC Fight Night 38 event done by Jacob Cooper, can be found here.

Tags: MMA UFC UFC Brazil Ufc Fight Night 38

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