I still have not seen UFC Fight Night 14 in its entirety, however, I’ve been able to view a good chunk of it. The biggest storylines of the night were obviously Anderson Silva’s dominant debut at 205 pounds as well as Brandon Vera’s successful debut in the same weight class.
But a big storyline that hasn’t gotten as much play as it deserves, and likely because MMA media sites only have so much staff and space to devote to coverage, is Kevin Burns’ controversial third round TKO victory over Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
First, the fight between Burns and Johnson was excellent. Burns proved his win over Roan Carneiro was no joke and that he belongs in the UFC. Credit goes to UFC V.P. of Talent Relations Joe Silva for unearthing yet another diamond in the rough.
That said, the outcome of the bout should be appealed by Johnson’s camp and overturned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Throughout the course of the fight, Burns kept getting his fingers caught on Johnson’s face. Johnson pointed this out several times and referee Steve Mazzagatti warned Burns multiple times about the infraction. However, that did not stop Burns from poking Johnson in the eye in the third round as he put out his hand to jab. Just like any normal human being taking a direct poke to the eye and feeling blinding pain, Johnson hit the deck and covered up. From the live angle, it almost looked as if Johnson went down from a punch and was truly TKO’d. However, replays from a better angle clearly showed that Johnson had taken a direct poke to the eye.
The fight was called to a stop and there was a delay. Mazzagatti was talking to several officials at cageside and the Spike TV showed zoomed in replays of Johnson taking the poke. It seemed like a done deal that Burns was going to lose via disqualification but when it came time for the official announcement, Burns was pronounced the winner via TKO.
I was shocked and amazed at the outcome. I can understand why there might be some initial confusion after Mazzagatti called a stop to the fight. But why did he get the decision wrong even after conversing with people around the cage? It makes little sense but something needs to be done. Rarely does it make sense for a fighter to appeal the outcome of a fight but in this case, it does. If Johnson raises hell, I don’t see how NSAC doesn’t overturn it.
My biggest problem might be with Burns’ repeated use of his fingers. After the fight was over, Burns said during the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan that he has to jab with an open hand because he’s fractured the hand three times in the last 18 months. That’s a valid excuse, except for the fact that I thought open palm strikes were illegal? Why was he allowed to routinely attempt an illegal punch? Maybe Burns has a medical reason for using the method, but rules are rules.
To Burns’ credit, he was contrite about the infraction and said he believes Johnson deserved a rematch. It almost sounded as if he had a problem with the outcome as well. Hopefully the commission gets involved and justice is served.