A 44-fight amateur MMA event featured a shocking knockout in Sao Paulo, and an “intern” referee was to blame.
Copa Thunder de MMA Amador took place Sunday in Brazil and was overseen by the National Athletic Commission of MMA (CANMMA), the same entity that oversees a number of small shows around the state.
A 198-pound clash between Jessian Lucas and Michael Douglas went viral on Twitter when referee Kleber Lopes ignored all the rules and forced Douglas to suffer a series of unnecessary damage in a matter of seconds.
Anderson Ulysses, vice-president of CANMMA, released a statement recognizing the errors and apologizing to the athletes.
“At 11 seconds of the first round, Michael was knocked out by a high kick to the head and the referee made his first mistake, not interrupting the fight,” the statement read. “He committed the second mistake by allowing the fight to continue with the athlete unconscious.”
The event’s ruleset made it clear that fighters weren’t allowed to land any strikes to the head of a grounded opponent, but the referee allowed Lucas to continue to pound out his opponent on the ground.
The referee finally realized the mistake and interrupted the contest. That said, he decided to restart the contest with Douglas barely conscious, another mistake pointed out by CANMMA’s statement. Douglas was dropped seconds after the fight was resumed, getting knocked out one more time.
“We apologize to the athletes, teams, MMA fans and Thunder Fight for the mistakes committed due to lack of experience of the professionals,” the statement read. “We inform that the referees that committed the mistakes were interns who were getting tested and had no experience as referees, but had undergone rule courses previously.”
Lopes was involved in another controversial bout, a late-stoppage in a heavyweight clash between Guilherme Viana and Manoel Victor. Lopes and Wilson Junior, who also worked as a referee that day, won’t be allowed to work as referees before they complete more courses, the commission announced.