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Illinois addresses PFL 2 controversies regarding Thiago Tavares, Jason High

Thiago Tavares (left) writhes in pain after a low blow from Robert Watley on Thursday night at PFL 2 in Chicago.
Ryan Loco, PFL

There were two disputed regulatory calls made Thursday night at PFL 2 in Chicago. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), the overseeing body of the state athletic commission, addressed those controversies Friday in an e-mail correspondence with MMA Fighting.

Thiago Tavares said Thursday that he would be appealing a second-round TKO loss to Robert Watley, which came as the result of a low blow. Tavares was given five minutes to recover from the below-the-belt strike and when he could not continue the commission ruled the bout a victory for Watley.

Under the Unified Rules of MMA, that exact situation would lead to a no contest being the result, since Tavares was finished via an unintentional foul or illegal strike. However, Illinois has different rules, per an IDFPR spokesperson.

“Mr. Tavares was not struck by an illegal blow as low-blows are considered accidental,” the spokesperson wrote. “Per our rules -Section 1370.630 (c)(2)(b)(iii) states: A contestant who is hit with an accidental low-blow must continue after a reasonable amount of time, but no more than 5 minutes, or he or she may lose the bout by technical knockout.”

The spokesperson added that in events that take place in Illinois, the state rules “supersede” the Unified Rules of MMA, which is also the case in most jurisdictions.

In the other incident Thursday night at PFL 2, Efrain Escudero defeated Jason High by submission with a guillotine choke. The referee Josh Stewart ruled that High tapped out and awarded Escudero the third-round victory. However, High disputed that account and lost his temper afterward, knocking over chairs cageside as he left the arena.

The replay of the sequence showed that High made a move against Escudero’s body that Stewart could have interpreted as a tap, but it was just one motion and High then continued to work to get out of the submission.

Regarding that situation, the IDFPR spokesperson stated: “The referee determined the bout to conclude by tap-out.”

High’s post-fight conduct is “under review” by the commission, the spokesperson said. High was banned by the UFC and suspended by the New Mexico Athletic Commission for shoving referee Kevin Mulhall in protest of a TKO loss to Rafael dos Anjos in 2014.

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