Nelson’s management team at Paradigm Sports today released a statement confirming the UFC has denied the fighter’s request.“We are disappointed with the UFC’s recent ruling to uphold the result of the July 16, 2017 bout between our client, Gunnar Nelson, and Santiago Ponzinibbio,” read the statement, posted on Paradigm’s Facebook page. “While we understand the outcome of a fight is difficult to overturn, we maintain that the blatant eye pokes were a major factor in the stoppage and the final eye poke was certainly a fight-ending foul, because Gunnar had no opportunity to signal the referee.
“A more stringent application of the Unified Rules of MMA should have been applied here to rule this fight a no-contest. We stand behind Gunnar and Team Nelson, and we hope this unfortunate situation will lead to more careful application of the rules regarding eye pokes, as fairness and fighter safety must always be a priority.”Nelson (16-3-1 MMA, 7-3 UFC) was stopped by Ponzinibbio (25-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) at the 1:22 mark of the opening frame of the FS1-televised UFC Fight Night 113 event in Glasgow, Scottland, which was regulated by the UFC and conducted under the new Unified Rules of MMA, which penalize a fighter from extending fingers outward during the action (the promotion oversees events in jurisdictions without formal athletic commissions).
The referee did not stop the fight to issue any warnings for eye-pokes, but afterward, Nelson said the flurry of punches he took was preceded by several fingers to his eye from Ponzinibbio.“I’m kicking myself in the head for not stopping the fight,” Nelson told MMAjunkie at the event’s post-fight presser. “I should have stopped the fight, recovered, and carried on from there.”
Under the current rules, the only person who can stop a fight mid-action is the referee, who is the sole arbiter of the contest. However, it’s not uncommon for referees to miss illegal eye-pokes in the heat of the moment.
“I was seeing two Ponzinibbios in front of me, and it was like that until I remember standing up and the fight was over,” Nelson said.
Ponzinibbio had no recollection of poking Nelson in the eye and maintained his punches ultimately finished the fight.
Nelson’s loss snapped a two-fight win streak and put him back in the hunt for a breakthrough fight. The 29-year-old submission ace has reeled off several impressive wins, but has fallen short against veterans such as Rick Story and Demian Maia prior to his defeat by Ponzinibbio, who’s won his past five octagon bouts.For more on UFC Fight Night 113, check out the UFC Events section of the site.