Saturday’s UFC on Fox event showed fans that Demetrious Johnson was the true dominant force at 125 pounds, it established Anthony Pettis as the next contender for the UFC lightweight title (after Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez fight first), and it served as the somewhat brutal going-away party for light heavyweights Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Vladimir Matyushenko. Below those headlines were stories of the emergence of lightweight T.J. Grant and featherweight Ricardo Lamas, who staked their claims for their divisions’ belts with stoppage victories over Matt Wiman and Erik Koch, respectively. Then, there are the preliminary victories by Shawn Jordan and Rafael Natal—noteworthy, to be sure, but certainly not the results to which most fans were paying attention.

In the next few days, the UFC will likely announce its next round of roster cuts, and there will probably be a few names from UFC on Fox 6 on the list. As it does after most events, the UFC releases a handful of losing fighters in order to open up room for new additions. It’s a common practice, and it’s one not unfamiliar to fighters and fans alike.

What is rare, though, is the UFC releasing a fighter after a result other than a loss. Such was the case late last week when the promotion announced it had cut bantamweight Pedro Nobre. Nobre was part of a controversial ending in his fight with Iuri Alcantara at UFC on FX 7. In that fight, Alcantara landed what referee Dan Miragliotta deemed to be illegal strikes to the back of Nobre’s head and neck. Miragliotta stopped the bout to allow Nobre some recovery time, but Nobre said he was unable to continue and the fight was ruled a no -contest.

Nobre and Miragliotta were the targets of criticism, not only from fans in Sao Paulo that night, but also from UFC President Dana White, who took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the result. The fight footage, which shows Nobre flattened out on his stomach with Alcantara on his back, does not appear to show obvious illegal blows, which is the source of the vitriol directed at Miragliotta. That being said, the referee was a lot closer to the action than anyone else, so maybe he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Nobre said after the fight that he thought it was stopped because he lost by TKO, and that despite the presence of illegal blows, he did not realize the bout had been ruled a no-contest until he was at the hospital. This could be a legitimate explanation or it could be revisionist history by Nobre.

The UFC is obviously not buying Nobre’s story, but let’s break this whole situation down.

The main point of contention here is the fact that the fight was ruled a no-contest. Had Miragliotta not interrupted Alcantara’s attack because of illegal strikes, he probably would have stepped in seconds later to stop the fight as a TKO. If that happens, Nobre can act as injured as he wants and it doesn’t reflect poorly on him. So if we assume that Nobre’s injuries were legitimate, it was Miragliotta’s intervention that ultimately cost Nobre his UFC roster spot.

Nobre asserted he was already more or less knocked out when the fight was halted, and naturally assumed it was over because of a legitimate stoppage, but wouldn’t Miragliotta or the doctors ask him if he was able to continue fighting after the pause, as they do after eye pokes or kicks to the groin? If that line of questioning was presented to Nobre, and we have no reason to believe it was not, then Nobre would have been fully aware that he had not been finished. If that’s the case, then this issue gets slightly more complicated.

If we assume that Alcantara’s blows were illegal and that Nobre was actually aware that the fight was stopped because of them, then the focus shifts from Miragliotta and lands squarely on Nobre. If Nobre was actually unable to continue, then his actions were not only legitimate, but probably for the best. People constantly talk about fighters not knowing when to call it quits and deride referees who allow fights to continue past the point of a decisive finish, so why would Nobre receive so much criticism, and ultimately lose his UFC contract, if he was only looking out for his own health? Again, this assumes that Nobre was not aware the fight was stopped because of those illegal strikes.

If that assumption is false, though, then Nobre doesn’t look so innocent. Nobre’s awareness of the fight’s stoppage because of the illegal blows and subsequent decision to claim an inability to continue would leave the Brazilian with the worst reputation a fighter can get: that of a faker. If he was, in fact, able to continue after Miragliotta stepped in and simply chose to let the fight go to a no-contest because he was obviously on his way to losing, then the UFC’s post-fight actions are probably justified.

This is a tricky situation, though, just because of the combination of circumstances that led to this controversy. Had Alcantara not been a few more strikes from legitimately winning the fight, then Miragliotta’s actions and the fight’s subsequent ruling as a no-contest wouldn’t be as big of a deal.

Unfortunately, not all fight results are as cut-and-dry as Anthony Pettis’ liver-kick knockout of Donald Cerrone from Saturday night. Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond a fighter’s control, things can get a little murky in the cage and you can end up in the UFC’s dog house. Only Pedro Nobre knows how things really went down at UFC on FX 7, and he’ll now have a long opportunity to think it over as he tries once again to fight his way back into the Octagon.

Photo: Pedro Nobre (Alan Oliveira/Sherdog)

About The Author

Eric Reinert
Staff Writer

Eric Reinert has been writing about mixed martial arts since 2010. Outside the world of caged combat, Eric has spent time as a news reporter, speechwriter, campaign strategist, tech support manager, landscaper and janitor. He lives in Madison, Wis.