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Dana White vents at officiating in Jessica-Rose Clark’s UFC on ESPN+ 36 win

UFC president Dana White voiced frustration toward referee Chris Tognoni after a controversial call in Jessica-Rose Clark’s TKO win over Sarah Alpar at UFC on ESPN+ 36.

There was a curious moment in Clark’s (9-6 MMA, 3-2 UFC) third-round finish of Alpar (9-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) on Saturday’s card, which took place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Clark landed a big knee in the midst of the contest just as Alpar was falling backwards on her butt.

In real time, it appeared Clark may have landed an illegal strike to a grounded opponent, but replays showed it to be clean. Instead of awarding Clark her fight-ending moment right there, though, Tognoni called for a restart. Clark continued to batter Alpar and finished the fight not long after, but not before Alpar absorbed a beating which left the mat smeared with blood.

The UFC president wasn’t pleased with how it played out, and said UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner is pushing for the commission to change how such instances are handled.

“It’s a horrible situation,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie, post-fight at UFC on ESPN+ 36. “Fight should’ve been over. That fight should’ve been over just like last week. She got finished. She got stopped. If you have to jump in and look at her and do anything – her nose was broken. That was a finish. That should’ve been a finish. I know Marc Ratner is all over this. It’s just something that needs to be worked out. When you get stopped, and these kids are so tough and durable. That poor little girl fought her ass off again after she was able to continue. This just needs to be fixed. They gotta figure this out.”

In the immediate aftermath of the fight, the Nevada Athletic Commission released a statement to TSN reporter Aaron Bronsteter explaining the commission’s stance on what happened.

“It was a legal strike,” the statement read. “They paused the fight because they thought it was a knee to a grounded opponent. They went to the replay and confirmed that it was a legal strike. The fight was never officially stopped. Sarah Alpar was asked if she could continued and she wanted to continue, she said, ‘Yes.’ Under NAC rules, the bout can continue after the replay since the fight was only temporarily paused and never officially stopped.”

Nevertheless, White said the entire sequence pointed to underlying issues in the sport. He’d glad Tognoni’s refereeing didn’t allow a crazy turnaround of fortune like what happened in Ed Herman’s win over Mike Rodriguez last weekend, and White said he just wants these moments to be handled properly.

“I’m in favor of whatever’s gonna be fair,” White said. “If someone won a fight, like last week should’ve been stopped. Thank God (Clark) didn’t turn around and lose the fight this week. It’s just crazy.”

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