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Mohegan commission overturns ‘Baby Slice’ TKO at Bellator 232 for illegal blows

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“Baby Slice” won’t get a win at Bellator 232 after all.

The Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation on Monday overturned Kevin Ferguson Jr.’s victory to a no-contest, ruling Craig Campbell was fouled in the first round of the fight.

Ferguson Jr. originally was declared the winner via TKO just 38 seconds into the DAZN-streamed bout this past Saturday. As Campbell attempted a takedown against the fence, Ferguson Jr. landed a flurry of elbows that knocked him out.

Replays of the fight-ending sequence appeared to show at least one of Ferguson Jr.’s elbows landed illegally to the back of the head. But several of the shots also appeared to land in the legal area, including one to the jaw that appeared to be the knockout blow.

Bellator commentator John McCarthy, a longtime referee and official, noted on the broadcast that one of the blows appeared to be illegal, but that Campbell was in motion when the fight-ending sequence occurred.

Bryan Miner, the referee overseeing Ferguson Jr. vs. Campbell, didn’t appear to declare a foul by Ferguson Jr. before calling him the winner. But in a letter to Bellator President Scott Coker, MTDAR President Michael Mazzulli cites commission rules that allow the use of instant replay in an “exhibition stopped due to injury to an unarmed combatant in order to determine whether the injury in question was caused by a legal blow.”

”In the case of the above-referenced bout, upon review of the tape, we have determined that the injury that stopped the bout was the result of an accidental foul; elbows to the back of the head,” Mazzulli wrote. “Since the bout was stopped in the first round of a bout scheduled for three rounds, we have determined that the result of the bout must be changed to “no-contest.”

Coker said he was looking into the matter when contacted by MMA Fighting. Ferguson Jr. and Campbell weren’t immediately reachable for comment.

An illegal blow to the back of the head is defined in the Unified Rules of MMA as “the area starting at the crown of the head and running directly down the centerline of the head with a one-inch variance to each side.” Referees often give more leeway to fighters on strikes of questionable legality when bodies are in motion during a fight; it’s hard for the fighter striking and fighter being struck to anticipate where a strike is going in the midst of the action.

Referees are considered the sole arbiters of a contest’s outcome during the fight, but several jurisdictions allow an official result to be reviewed in cases where a foul is suspected to have caused the ending to a fight. A 2011 bout between Robbie Peralta and Mackens Semerzier was overturned to a no-contest when it was determined a clash of heads lead to a TKO for Peralta. McCarthy sent a letter in support of Semerzier’s appeal of the bout.