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Nevada commission declines Alex Oliveira appeal of illegal knee result

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UFC 207 Fight Photos
Referee Dan Miragliotta ruled the bout between Tim Means and Alex Oliveira a no contest.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Alex Oliveira will have to settle for just one victory over Tim Means.

Oliveira and Means fought for the first time at UFC 207 in Las Vegas on Dec. 30. The bout ended when Means connected with multiple illegal knees to a grounded Oliveira’s head and Oliveira was unable to continue.

At the time, referee Dan Miragliotta ruled the bout a no-contest, deeming that Means threw the fight-ending illegal knees unintentionally. Oliveira’s team attempted to appeal that result in an effort to get it overturned to a no disqualification, arguing that the knees are intentional.

Earlier this month, the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) declined Oliveira’s request for appeal, MMA Fighting confirmed via a public records request following an article by MMAjunkie. NAC executive director Bob Bennett wrote in a letter to Oliveira’s manager Alex Davis that he did not “provide adequate grounds for a change of decision.”

Davis was requesting a hearing in the matter, because Means has publicly admitted to throwing the knees intentionally. He just didn’t know that those particular knees — with Oliveira in a grounded position with both knees on the mat — were illegal, he told MMAjunkie recently.

“Accidental?” Means said. “They’re playing with my intelligence. I threw the knee on purpose because I thought it was completely legal, so give the dude the DQ [win].”

Davis believed that Means’ admittance was enough to at least have a hearing on the result.

“The knee wasn’t accidental, it was intentional, and the rule says an intentional foul should result in a DQ to the one who committed the intentional foul,” Davis told MMA Fighting. “The athletic commission simply refuses to admit the guilt after saying it was accidental and ruling it a no contest, and denies to admit the truth when even Tim Means himself admits it.”

Bennett’s letter to Davis described a different interpretation: that Miragliotta ruled it a no contest, because Means didn’t attempt to throw illegal knees. He did not know the rule and thought the knees were perfectly legal.

“The determination of whether a foul is accidental or intentional falls to the referee who is the sole arbiter of a contest,” Bennett wrote.

Davis said that “Cowboy” could pursue the case with a judicial review of the commission’s findings, but it would not make sense financially. He is frustrated with the proceedings.

“For 'Cowboy,' the only option now would be appealing in the civil court, and the expenses he would have are bigger than the money at stake,” Davis said. “But we’re not doing this for the money, it's for the principle. We, fighters and managers and coaches, have to respect the most strict rules, and we suffer the consequences when we don’t follow them, but the athletic commissions are not required the same. They do what they want and it stays like that.”

Oliveira (17-3-1, 2 NC) was able to get some closure inside the Octagon, at least. The Brazilian defeated Means by second-round submission earlier this month in a rematch in Fortaleza, Brazil. Oliveira, 29, is now unbeaten in his last four fights.