Francisco Rivera will remain with a loss on his record despite getting poked in the eye en route to defeat.
The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) ruled that it could not overturn the result of Rivera's fight with Urijah Faber from UFC 181 during its monthly meeting Tuesday in Las Vegas. Because referee Mario Yamasaki missed the eye-poke and didn't misinterpret a rule, the NAC could not change the bout to a no contest, per commission regulations.
"I would phrase it that we're powerless to change this decision," commissioner Skip Avansino said.
In the second round of their fight Dec. 6, Faber poked Rivera in the eye and Rivera covered up. Faber pounced and seconds later finished the bout with a bulldog choke.
Yamasaki issued a statement to the commission saying he missed the foul. Due to that fact, deputy attorney general Christopher Eccles argued that the NAC did not have the ability to change the result, per regulations. A result can only change if a referee misinterpreted a rule. Also, Yamasaki could not use instant replay in this instance, because it can only be utilized if the fight was stopped immediately after the foul.
The commission agreed with Eccles' argument and upheld the result -- a win for Faber and loss for Rivera.
The NAC did leave the door open for reform and better use of its instant replay system in future meetings. Faber, a veteran of MMA, was on the phone for the meeting Tuesday and asked the commissioners how long instant replay has been available in the sport. He was informed since 2007. Bill Brady added that in seven years as a commissioner, he has seen instant replay used only once and that was in a boxing match.
Rivera (10-4, 1 NC) did well in the first round against Faber and many had him winning the fight when the foul happened. He has now lost two straight bouts in the UFC bantamweight division.
Faber (32-7), one of the most popular lighter weight fighters ever, is now on a two-fight winning streak. He's scheduled to face Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC Fight Night 66 on May 16 in Manila.
Check out Faber's lawyer's letter to NAC below.