Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic's sudden UFC return brought a hero's welcome from hundreds of Croatian fans perched in Lanxess Arena. The UFC 99 bout's ending and aftermath were a different story.
In real time, Cro Cop hurt opponent Mostapha Al-Turk with a punch and finished him off against the cage. But after referee Dan Mirgliotta waved the bout off, a replay revealed an inadvertent eye poke had taken Al-Turk out of the game.
Al-Turk's manager, Ken Pavia, told Fighters Only he would contest the decision.
"We are going to appeal that. We don't think it's right that it should be a TKO," said Pavia. "The referee should have got onto the eye poke. Look at Henderson vs. Franklin at UFC 93 in Dublin. Franklin got a timeout when he got eye-poked."
Marc Ratner, UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Monday told MMAWeekly.com an appeal was not possible.
"It's very simple," said Ratner. "By the unified rules ... first of all the referee didn't see the foul. What you're asking is can we go to instant replay. You're saying now that the fight's over, can you take a look at it? If the referee had seen the finger and stopped the fight immediately, he could have given a stop for five minutes to recover, and then if (Al-Turk) couldn't have gone on, it would have been a no-contest."
Ratner, who headed the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) prior to current Executive Director Keith Kizer, chalked the incident up to a judgment call on Mirgliotta's part.
"In any sport, a judgment call cannot be overturned," he continued. "It's one of those things that happens, but nobody saw it around the Octagon until the replay."
A similar controversy occurred last July when Kevin Burns accidentally poked Anthony Johnson in the eye in the final round of their fight at "Silva vs. Irvin." Referee Steve Mazzagatti did not see the infraction and ruled the fight a TKO after Burns finished off Johnson. Pavia's subsequent appeal to the Nevada State Athletic Commission was rejected for "lack of remedy."
Pavia and Al-Turk were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.