It took all of two fights to put New York’s new instant replay review policy to the test at UFC 217 Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Curtis Blaydes threw a kick toward the head of Aleksei Oleinik, who was on all fours and considered a grounded opponent. Referee Blake Grice paused the heavyweight fight after what in real time looked like it could have been an illegal strike.
The referee then called in a cageside doctor to look at Oleinik, who had taken a significant amount of punishment in the eight minutes of fighting. The doctor ruled that Oleinik couldn’t continue and the fight was stopped at 1:56 of Round 2.
Grice reviewed the video of the fight-ending sequence and determined that the strike was clean. Blaydes’ right foot skimmed Oleinik’s left ear lobe. Blaydes was awarded the TKO victory.
“While we waited on the decision, I felt like I was going to be robbed of my performance tonight,” Blaydes said. “I’m proud of what I did out there and I didn’t want that to be taken away by the fight stoppage. I’m very happy with the win but I wish I’d gotten a chance to really finish him.”
The New York State Athletic Commission adopted the instant replay policy last month, upon the recommendations passed by the Association of Boxing Commissions last summer.
Ramos wins with spinning back elbow
Ricardo Ramos tried it once and landed a glancing blow. Seconds later, the bantamweight went for the same low-percentage move. This time, Ramos’ spinning back elbow landed clean to the right jaw of Aiemann Zahabi, sending him to the canvas out cold for the knockout at the 1:58 mark of the third round. It was the second knockout by spinning back elbow in the 24-year history of the UFC. Dong Hyun Kim did it first in 2014.
“That’s something we train a lot,” Ramos said. “I had some secret weapons for him.”
Big draw at Garden
UFC 217 is expected to be the No. 3 live gate for a sporting event at Madison Square Garden, UFC president Dana White said this week. Last year’s UFC 205 set the record at $17.7 million, besting the $13.5 million from the Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis fight in 1999.
Said White: “I want to be No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 at MSG.”