The longtime UFC veteran made his debut under the Professional Fighters League banner against the lightweight prospect Thursday night in Chicago, but the fight abruptly ended seconds into round two after Watley landed a vicious — and unintentional — low blow.
Tavares was given five minutes to recover, but couldn’t stand back up after the time ran out. Surprisingly, though, referee Keith Peterson did not rule it a no contest. Instead, Watley was declared the winner via TKO.
Typically, when an MMA fight ends due to the result of an accidental foul the result is called a no contest. Per Illinois rules, a fighter who is hit with an accidental low blow must continue “after a reasonable amount of time, but no more than 5 minutes” or that fighter might lose by technical knockout.
A few hours after the end of the fight, Tavares informed MMA Fighting he was in the hospital for exams and was still experiencing pain in the groin and abdomen area. Tavares said via text message that he wasn’t given a reason why the fight wasn’t ruled a no-contest, and said he “undoubtedly” will appeal the decision with the Illinois State Athletic Commission.
A loss in his PFL debut would drop Tavares’ record to 21-8-1, his first defeat since a nine-year run in the UFC came to an end in 2016. If his victory stands, Watley (11-1) will earn five points in the PFL system.