Illinois Controversies Crosses Promotions into PFL 2

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Thiago Tavares Robert Watley
Image Credit: PFL

The state of Illinois can’t seem to escape controversy in the sport of MMA, as its controversies in the month of June alone has now crossed promotions. In last night’s PFL 2 event, there was not one, but two controversial decisions made, and The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), which oversees the athletic commission, is standing firm behind the decisions made by officials at the event.

First, Thiago Tavares lost his bout to Robert Watley after being unable to continue following a low blow. The Unified Rules of MMA holds that such a result should lead to a no contest, but an IDFPR spokesperson provided a statement that shows the state believes it is above these rules:

“Mr. Tavares was not struck by an illegal blow as low-blows are considered accidental,” the spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to MMA Fighting. “Per our rules -Section 1370.630 (c)(2)(b)(iii) states: A contestant who is hit with an accidental low-blow must continue after a reasonable amount of time, but no more than 5 minutes, or he or she may lose the bout by technical knockout.”

The spokesperson is also reported as saying the state rules “supersede” the Unified Rules. Thiago Tavares has already stated that he plans to appeal the decision.

Finally, the controversy from the Jason High/Efrain Escudero fight has already gone viral, when Jason High was determined to have tap out to a guillotine choke from Escudero, while the video evidence brings that determination into serious question. High made a single motion with his arm while in the hold that prompted the referee to intervene and bring a close to the contest. See the video for yourself here.

The commentators were dumbfounded with the referee’s decision, while High was only furious. After the conclusion of the bout, High pushed the referee before knocking over chairs cageside at the height of his rage. Despite the controversial stoppage, the Illinois State Commission representatives stand behind referee Josh Stewart’s decision and even went one step further in saying that Jason High has no grounds for an appeal. They will, however, review High’s behavior in reaction to the decision.

What are your thoughts on these two controversial stoppages and the commission’s initial handling of them?