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Junior Dos Santos appeals UFC 256 loss to Ciryl Gane with Nevada Athletic Commission

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UFC 256: Dos Santos v Gane Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos is seeking to have his TKO loss to Ciryl Gane at UFC 256 overturned after filing a detailed appeal with the Nevada Athletic Commission.

The commission asked for additional information after a previous appeal was filed in January. Dos Santos attorney Ana Guedes rep then delivered in a new letter sent on March 17.

The appeal comes after Dos Santos was clubbed with an elbow strike from Gane in the second round of their fight this past December in Las Vegas. While Dos Santos complained immediately after the stoppage that the elbow struck him in the back of the head – an illegal blow – the referee disagreed and the fight was declared a TKO win for Gane.

The appeal filed by Guedes states “we have not and do not allege that the referee did not see the foul; rather, he saw the blow to the back of Junior’s head, but as a result of his misinterpretation of the rule, he wrongly failed to call it a foul, and he wrongly awarded a victory to the offending contestant, Cyril Gane.”

In the letter to the commission, Guedes describes in detail the rule that defines what is considered the back of the head as well as how strikes are prohibited to that area. The appeal also lays out the fight ending sequence where Gane set up his elbow strike, fired the shot and then connected on Dos Santos, which led to the fight being finished a few seconds later.

“There is no doubt that the elbow was the initial point of contact of the blow, and where Gane’s power struck – precisely, squarely, directly on the illegal striking zone,” the appeal stated along with photos showing a step-by-step sequence of events that led to the finishing shot.

There are also photos of Dos Santos’ head from three days after the event that show bruising on the back of his head and neck, which his team believes documents exactly where the elbow strike landed illegally and caused the stoppage to the fight.

The end goal of the appeal asks the commission to overturn the result of the fight to a no-contest or a disqualification for Gane.

NAC statutes allow for a very limited set of circumstances in which a fight to be overturned: a scoring error, collusion, a positive drug test, or a referee misinterpretation of the rules. Typically, though, the commission gives great weight to a referee’s discretion as the sole arbiter of a contest.

As with most commissions across the U.S., decisions are rarely overturned based on a referee’s decision in a fight. In 2015, however, the Brazilian commission (CABMMA) did overturn a result in a fight between Drew Dober and Leandro Silva after the referee made an error stopping the fight due to a submission despite the fact that Dober had not tapped out or gone unconscious.