Australian Jessica-Rose Clark was at the centre of controversy at UFC Vegas 11 as part of an undercard full of early finishes.
Clark defeated Sarah Alpar via a third-round TKO, with some suggesting the 32-year-old kneed her rival in the head when she was on the ground — which is an illegal move.
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Clark landed the huge blow as Alpar was sliding down the side of the Octagon, but referee Chris Tognoni deemed the shot legal because it landed before Alpar’s bottom touched the ground. ESPN’s TV commentators agreed with him, saying the move was clean.
However, of more concern was the fact Tognoni allowed the fight to continue after Clark’s knee, despite fans believing Alpar was clearly in no state to fight on.
Clark landed more punches and elbows to the head, before delivering two more knees that finally convinced the ref to call the bout off with 39 seconds remaining.
After the fight the Nevada State Athletic commission confirmed Tognoni initially stopped the fight after the first knee because he suspected it was illegal, but replays confirmed it was not and Clark and Alpar were allowed to continue.
Even Clark knew her rival shouldn’t have been allowed to keep fighting.
“I thought the fight was over,” Clark said. “I could see that she wasn’t ready to come back in.”
UFC writer Damon Martin tweeted: “Jessica-Rose Clark essentially got two knockouts in one fight thanks to an inept referee allowing Sarah Alpar to take a lot of extra damage.
“The bigger problem with Chris Tognoni in that fight was that Sarah Alpar was clearly out of it after she ate that knee — legal or illegal.”
Fellow MMA reporter Josh Gross added: “Sarah Alpar took two more minutes worth of damage than she needed to. How is Tognoni supposed to handle? He thought the blow was illegal. It was confirmed legal. Use of replay says the fight should have ended with Jessica-Rose Clark the winner. Not sure how that restart happens.”
Andreas Hale wrote: “I‘m so confused as to why this Rose Clark vs Alpar fight is still going. That knee was legal and Alpar was obliterated. SMH.”
Earlier, Randy Costa delivered a savage blow to knock out Journey Newson after just 41 seconds with a brutal kick to the head that turned his opponent’s lights off before he hit the ground.
Before that, Tyson Nam’s vicious right hand took care of Jerome Rivera.
Nam floored Rivera early in the second round and rained down a barrage of punches with the American on the canvas, before the referee jumped in and called the fight off just 34 seconds after the bell.
Nam celebrated his knockout by shrugging Michael Jordan-style as the ref looked after a dazed Rivera.
Darrick Minner pulled off the second first-round stoppage of the preliminary card after Costa, submitting TJ Laramie with a guillotine choke just 52 seconds into their showdown.
Mayra Bueno Silva’s armbar forced Mara Romero Borella to tap out, also in the first round, while Damon Jackson’s guillotine in the third round scored him a win over Mirsad Bektic.
Khamzat Chimaev defeated Gerald Meerschaert via TKO (R1, 0:17)
Johnny Walker defeated Ryan Spann via TKO (R1, 2:43)
Mackenzie Dern defeated Randa Markos via submission (R1, 3:44)
Kevin Holland defeated Darren Stewart via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x 2)
David Dvorak defeated Jordan Espinosa via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
Damon Jackson defeated Mirsad Bektic via submission (R3, 1:21)
Mayra Bueno Silva defeated Mara Romero Borella via submission (R1, 2:29)
Jessica-Rose Clark defeated Sarah Alpar via TKO (R3, 4:21)
Darrick Minner defeated T.J. Laramie via submission (R1, 0:52)
Randy Costa defeated Journey Newson via KO (R1, 0:41)
Andre Ewell defeated Irwin Rivera via split decision (29-28 x 2, 28-29)
Tyson Nam defeated Jerome Rivera via TKO (R2, 0:34)
Originally published as Aussie’s sickening blow causes controversy