01 Jan Virginia commission denies Ion Cutelaba appeal of controversial UFC Norfolk loss
Magomed Ankalaev’s technical knockout victory over Ion Cutelaba will stand as it is, the Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation decided. Cutelaba’s manager Tiago Okamura was informed of the official decision on Monday, he confirmed to MMA Fighting following an initial report by ESPN.
Referee Kevin MacDonald stopped the light heavyweight contest just 38 seconds after Ankalaev left Cutelaba wobbled during a frenetic striking battle. Cutelaba protested it, later claiming that he was faking it.
In the decision, DPOR spokesperson Mary Broz-Vaughan informed Cutelaba’s team that the commission found “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,” Broz-Vaughan wrote. “Whether video replay or popular opinion or hindsight makes one second guess a decision later is not at issue.”
The UFC immediately booked a rematch between Cutelaba and Ankalaev for April 18 in Brooklyn, but the match-up eventually fell when the coronavirus pandemic stopped Ankalaev from entering the United States for UFC 249. Cutelaba was then scheduled to fight Ovince Saint Preux on April 25, but the whole event got cancelled.
Read Virginia’s DPOR full decision below.
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.