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Morning Report: Daniel Cormier believes Jason Herzog ‘unfairly’ took a point away from Paulo Costa at UFC Vegas 41

Daniel Cormier
Daniel Cormier
Esther Lin/

This past weekend, Marvin Vettori turned in a stellar performance, both inside and outside the cage, winning a unanimous decision victory over Paulo Costa in the main event of UFC Vegas 41. In a fight week muddled by controversy where Costa arrived in Las Vegas unable to make the scheduled 185-pound weight limit, Vettori ultimately accepted a fight with Costa a 205 pounds instead, and proceeded to outlast the heavier Costa, earning scores of 48-46 on all three judges’ scorecards. But though the no one disagrees with the winner, the final scoring of the bout has raised some controversy.

The three 46s given to Costa were the result of referee Jason Herzog deducting a point from “Borrachinha” for an illegal eye poke. Between the first and the second round, Herzog went to Costa and warned him to be mindful of extending his fingers outward, something Costa had been doing while parrying the lead hand, and when he poked Vettori in the eye in the second round, Herzog took a point. And while many fans and media members lauded Herzog for enforcing the rules appropriately, UFC commentator and former two-division champion Daniel Cormier was less pleased with what happened, saying that Herzog let the outside-the-cage storylines affect his judgment.

“Costa’s doing a good job in round number two, kicks Vettori in the head, having his best round of the fight, then he pokes him in the eye,” Cormier said on his YouTube channel. “Now here’s the thing. The poke in the eye, I get it, but when he got a point deducted - and I thought this immediately right afterwards - Jason Herzog has been watching the headlines. Jason Herzog has been watching and paying attention to the story that’s going around this fight, because everybody hates Costa. From the weigh in, he’s rubbing his hands, he’s been playing the bad guy all week. But when he took the point, after one eye poke, that really did not look intentional to me, it told me that Herzog has been following the headlines and he allowed for that emotion of Costa being the bad guy to make him go a little bit too fast.”

This was not Herzog’s only point deduction of the evening. During the prelims, Herzog also deducted a point from Seung Woo Choi for an illegal knee to the head of a grounded opponent when he blasted Alex Caceres with an illegal knee while trying to finish the bout.

The unified rules of MMA allow for a referee to deduct a point for any foul, including disregarding the instructions of the referee. Accordingly, Herzog’s deduction was entirely justified, however, it has become common occurrence in MMA for referees to not deduct points from fighters and instead give them a verbal warning, and Cormier believes that is what should have happened in this instance.

“It should have been a warning. We have seen much more severe eye pokes happen in fights. I’ve done it myself. I’ve poked guys more than this guy poked Marvin Vettori and didn’t get a point taken away. As an official, you can’t read the headlines....

“Everybody pays much more attention than you ever want to believe. From the fighters to the referees, everybody pays attention. The commentators. Everybody pays attention, everybody listens, and they listen to things they shouldn’t. So at times, as humans, we make decisions that may not end up being the right thing for the situation and I think in this one, Herzog read the headlines and he may have judged Costa unfairly.”


Results. Marvin Vettori outpoints Paulo Costa at UFC Vegas 41.

Results. Fedor Emelianenko scores first-round KO at Bellator 269.

Results. Juntaro Ushiku dethrones featherweight champ Yutaka Saito at RIZIN 31.

Reason. Paulo Costa cites injured left bicep in explanation for massive weight issue at UFC Vegas 41.

Rejection. Marvin Vettori not buying ‘fat ass’ Paulo Costa’s reason for weight miss: ‘That doesn’t make any f*cking sense’.

205. Dana White says Paulo Costa will ‘absolutely’ be a light heavyweight moving forward, Costa disagrees.


UFC Vegas 41 Post-Fight Show.

The MMA Hour: Week 8 Highlights.

UFC 267 Countdown.

PFL Championship Vlog.

Israel Adesanya reacts to Costa-Vettori.

Alexander Volkanovski talking through his guillotine defense.


On to the Next One. Matchmaking for fighters following UFC Vegas 41.

Severe MMA. Discussing UFC 267, Fedor Emelianenko, and the PFL Finals.


“The largest count ever not featuring Max Holloway” is the best stat.

Face turn.


Calling for a return.



Josh Emmett (16-2) vs. Dan Ige (15-4); UFC 269, Dec. 11.

Raoni Barcelos (16-2) vs. Trevin Jones (13-7); UFC Fight Night, Dec. 18.

Renato Moicano (15-4-1) vs. Alexander Hernandez (13-4); UFC 271, Feb. 12.


This one is pretty simple: Jason Herzog is the best referee in the sport and Daniel Cormier is flat out wrong. Just because no one enforces the rules properly doesn’t mean that it’s incorrect when they are properly enforced. Referees should take points for illegal actions because, you know, they are illegal. Letting fighters get free fouls is extremely dumb and entirely fixable.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



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