Junior Dos Santos appeals loss to Ciryl Gane, cites ‘misinterpretation’ of illegal strikes rule

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Danny Segura
·3 min read
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Junior Dos Santos is looking to take action on what he believes to be the illegal strikes that led to his latest defeat.

Dos Santos, the former UFC heavyweight champion, re-filed an appeal with the Nevada Athletic Commission to overturn his UFC 256 TKO loss to Ciryl Gane in December to a no contest. The appeal originally was filed Jan. 15, but the commission stated that it did not sufficiently describe what Dos Santos’ team believes was a misinterpretation of the rules by the referee, thus denying a hearing on the matter in the first filing.

In a revised letter obtained by MMA junkie, Dos Santos’ team went more in depth in what its trying to achieve with the appeal, stating it was an issue with the referee misinterpreting Rule 7, which prohibits blows to the back of the head.

“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.”

Dos Santos’ team provided a series of photos that showed the fight-ending combination, plus another post-fight series that showed bruising on the back of his head.

Dos Santos’ team argues that the photos show the shots landed in the illegal zone and claim the referee acknowledged and agreed with the assessment, but he didn’t call the bout a no contest due to other points of contact.

“The referee added his own exception to the rule: He explained, both in the octagon and again in the locker room post-fight, that because Gane’s forearm touched Junior’s ear, the elbow aimed directly at Junior’s brain stem area was somehow rendered legal,” Dos Santos’ team stated. “That was the basis of the referee’s determination that a foul had not occurred, and that is a complete misinterpretation of the rule, whose plain language provides no such exception.”

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The loss to Gane was the last fight of Dos Santos’ storied UFC career as he was released from the promotion earlier this month. It was the fourth conescutive defeat for the 37-year-old, all by TKO.

Dos Santos (21-9 MMA) and his team don’t expect the appeal to change his standing with the UFC but instead hope it sets a precedent for the sport.

“We seek this Commission’s intervention today because it is the right thing to do. We acknowledge, wistfully, that Junior is closer to the twilight of his fight career than the dawn,” Dos Santos’ team explained. “Indeed, since this appeal was originally filed, we have learned that we will not see Junior in the UFC octagon again. That makes this appeal far less about the consequence to Junior’s own record, and far more about his personal commitment to the legacy of mixed martial arts – a sport he has worked to positively promote for over a decade, a sport he credits with changing his life. Changing the decision of Junior Dos Santos x Cyril Gane to a ‘no contest’ or ‘no decision’ is the right result.”