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Fabio Maldonado appeals to WMMAA, confident loss to Fedor Emelianenko will be overturned

Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

Fabio Maldonado’s team is still hopeful that his controversial majority decision loss to Fedor Emelianenko at Fight Night 50 will be overturned.

Maldonado fought "The Last Emperor" on June 17, and surprisingly dominated the Russian heavyweight in the first round, almost finishing him more than once. Emelianenko came back to win the next two rounds, and Maldonado’s team believes the fight should have been scored a draw after such a dominant opening round.

Stefano Sartori, who manages Maldonado, reached out to MMA Fighting two days after the fight, informing that they have appealed to the Russian MMA Union. However, even before they officially contacted the entity, Union’s VP Radmir Gabdullin, who happens to be a training partner of Emelianenko, released a statement saying that it would not be overturned. According to Gabdullin, Maldonado had to appeal within 40 minutes after the event.

Following the initial response from Russian MMA Union, Maldonado’s manager reached out to World MMA Association (WMMAA), which oversees the Union, and once again appealed the result. Sartori sent WMMAA the following letter:


I am Stefano Sartori, manager of Brazilian MMA fighter Fabio Maldonado and we are writing this email to officially appeal about the result of my client fight against Fedor Emilianenko in June 17 on the Main Event of Fight Nights 50.

We watched the tape many times with cool head and we realized there is no way we lost the fight. It's either draw or Fabio's victory. We won R1 with a clear 10-8, not to mention that everyone else in the world besides Official Referee would have stopped that fight. Fedor was tough and came back to won the R2 10-9. The last one is really close and could go either way. So it's either Fabio's victory or a draw.

We were extremely surprised to have learned that all the judges of the bout were Russian and they all are employed by no other than Fedor Emelianenko who is the president of Russian MMA Union that sanctioned these judges.

Even worse, Radmir Gabdullin who was the head judge of the bout is the Russian MMA Union's vice-president. You can see it here

If it is not a clear case of conflict of interest, I don't know what to call this. To have a fair judgment of this fight it is required to have independent international judges and that is what we claim with this official letter.

Since mister Gabdullin said to the Russian Press that he would refuse to accept our appeal and considering that we feel that Russian judges would be under too much pressure on this case, we have no other choice but to appeal to World MMA Association that is an umbrella organization with Russian MMA union being part of it.

Before finishing I want to say that I truly believe that Russian MMA Judges haven't done anything to intentionally harm my client. The conflict of interest, to my eyes, is natural when you judge someone who is personally so close to you. That's why we respectfully ask for another referee team to watch and judge this fight.

Best Regards,

Stefano Sartori

On its official website, WMMAA announced that they will "appoint a group of objective international judges" to re-watch the fight, and has temporarily suspended Gabdullin from his position. Sartori told MMA Fighting on Friday there’s "a good chance" the result will be overturned.

Check WMMAA’s full statement below:

WMMAA received an appeal request from Stefano Sartori who is Brazilian Fabio Maldonado's manager. In his appeal mister Sartori asks to appoint an independent judges' commission that would reassess the results of the bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Fabio Maldonado.

Since all the rights belong to the organizing party of the event, Fight Nights promotion, any reassessment would be made possible if triggered by the promotion in question. However, based on the received appeal, WMMAA's overall responsibility for positive cooperation within sports community and because the whole issue brought up a lot of negative publicity towards judges of Russian MMA Union which is part of WMMAA, the Association is forced to react and assess both the situation occurred as well as the quality of decisions made by its licensed judges.

Accordingly, WMMAA's president announces the following sequence of actions:

- appoint Secretary General Alexander Engelhardt responsible for handling of the said appeal procedure;

- appoint a group of objective international judges under the guidance of experienced referee / judge in Marco Broersen (the Netherlands); the group is to assess the fight based on the tape and render an unbiased verdict regarding the fight and the judges' work.

- temporarily suspend WMMAA's head judge Radmir Gabdullin from his position.

- discuss judges' work at the next WMMAA Congress taking into account the pending verdict of the independent commission.

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