Mousasi scored a second-round TKO victory over former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman in a contest riddled with controversy, as a mixture of bad officiating, archaic instant replay rules, and a New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) still very much in its MMA infancy coalesced into an outcome that left neither fighter pleased.
The trouble arose midway through round two when Mousasi hurt Weidman with a salvo of knees to the head that referee Dan Miragliotta believed to be illegal. Miragliotta immediately jumped in and stopped the fight, awarding Weidman five minutes to recover. However, in a bizarre and chaotic sight, the contest was then ended several minutes later once it was discovered that both knees from Mousasi were legal blows.
Weidman was understandably upset and protested the stoppage. But in the end, it was Mousasi who was left to explain a victory that felt more hollow than rewarding.
“At the end of the day, I’m fighting,” Mousasi said at UFC 210’s post-fight press conference. “I have a lot of respect for Weidman. I don’t want to badmouth him. But if you want to play smart and take advantage of the rules, that’s not my fault. I’m fighting. If you want to put your hands down so I cannot knee you — you’re fighting, don’t try to take advantage of the rules. I’m fighting, and at the end of the day, it was legal. That’s what everyone says now, it was legal.
“I don’t make the rules. It was legal and I felt he didn’t want to continue,” Mousasi continued. “I think everyone saw that. He didn’t want to continue. How is that my fault? I don’t give a f*ck, I won. I like the guy, he’s a tough opponent, but at the end of the day, he didn’t want to fight. I felt he was getting tired.
“He was fatiguing. So I feel like he was trying to find a way out, and he felt maybe with a disqualification, he could do that.”
After winning the opening round on the strength of his takedowns, Weidman ate a slew of punches in the second stanza and struggled to get his offense uncorked before being hurt by the knees to the head from Mousasi, who repeatedly pointed out that Weidman was noticeably tiring at the time of the finishing sequence.
Altogether, the incident marked a third straight loss for Weidman, the former UFC titleholder who began his MMA career with 13 consecutive wins.
Weidman afterward called for a rematch against Mousasi, and although UFC 210 represented the final fight on Mousasi’s UFC contract, the former Strikeforce champion said he would be open to the idea, even if it wasn’t his ideal next step.
“If he wants his rematch, I can give it to him,” Mousasi said. “But at the end of the day, I’m chasing the title. If I fight (Michael) Bisping, I think I would be the favorite.
“It’s up to UFC. If they want to make [a rematch], make it in Holland. Sure, why not? The crowd was on his side this time. He fights me in Holland, the crowd would be on my side. So, yes. He tried to play it smart, take advantage of the rules and get me disqualified. I think everyone saw that. Don’t blame me. That’s all I can say.”
Regardless of how it happened, a win is still a win, and Mousasi badly needed a victory at UFC 210 to help give him leverage in his impending contract talks. The 31-year-old veteran is now riding a five-fight win streak over tough competition — by far the best run of his UFC career — yet even still, Mousasi insisted his cornermen not celebrate inside the cage at UFC 210 because of the luckless way the fight ended.
“I wasn’t in a happy mood. It’s not the way I want to win,” Mousasi said.
“But at the end of the day, it’s a win. Some soccer games, they score with a penalty kick and they win. It’s a win. At the end of the day, I’ll take it. But like I said, he didn’t want to fight. That’s not my fault.”