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Virginia commission to review expected Ion Cutelaba appeal after UFC Norfolk loss to Magomed Ankalaev

UFC Fight Night: Cutelaba v Ankalaev Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ion Cutelaba’s manager is in the process of filing an appeal with Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation in an effort to overturn a TKO loss to Magomed Ankalaev at UFC Norfolk.

The UFC light heavyweight’s rep, Tiago Okamura, told MMA Fighting he is required to be licensed as a manager with the DPOR, which oversees the state’s athletic commission, before he’s able to file the appeal.

The dispute centers around referee Kevin MacDonald’s stoppage in the ESPN+ bout at Chartway Arena this past Saturday. Cutelaba, 26, contends he was faking out Ankalaev when he visibly wobbled after an exchange of punches. He said his actions were part of his game plan and he was robbed of a fair fight by MacDonald. Ankalaev said he hurt Cutelaba with a kick and demurred on an opinion of the stoppage.

The crowd at Chartway Arena loudly booed the stoppage, which came just 38 seconds into the first round.

Cutelaba signaled his intention to appeal the result after the event. DPOR spokesperson Mary Broz-Vaughan said the Boxing, Martial Arts, and Professional Wrestling Advisory Board, which regulated UFC Norfolk, said in the case of a disputed fight outcome, the commission typically reviews the allegations contained in a complaint and reviews footage of an event before issuing a preliminary finding that decides whether or not there’s a basis to overturn a decision. The aggrieved party then has the opportunity to contest the preliminary findings on the record before the commission issues a final order.

If unsatisfied with the outcome, the party can appeal to state court.

Broz-Vaughan said generally that the athletic commission can’t change a decision “absent a compilation error on the scorecards, wrongful or illegal collusion, or some type of regulatory violation that adversely impacted the outcome.” She added she wasn’t aware of any fight results that had been overturned in her nearly 20 years with the DPOR due to the high burden of proof for complainants.

“We’ll see what the allegation is, go back and look at the tape and see if there’s anything that would warrant something of that magnitude,” she said. “In general terms, to overturn a decision is a very high bar.”

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