MMA referee Marc Goddard found himself under attack from enraged fighter Ahmad Al Darmaki after the featherweight refused to let go of a chokehold at UAE Warriors 12 on Friday.
Al Darmaki submitted Bogdan Kirilenko by sinking in a rear-naked choke in the first round in Abu Dhabi, but refused to release his grip from around his opponent’s neck even after he had clearly tapped.
Veteran official Goddard – who also works with the UFC – stepped in to haul Al Darmaki off his stricken rival, causing the fired-up fighter to shove Goddard several times and then attempting to grab him by the collar.
Goddard, himself a former light-heavyweight, stood his ground and eventually defused the situation, but was seen furiously pointing a finger at Al Darmaki as the fighter walked off to celebrate what he thought was a dominant victory.
Ahmad Al Darmaki was just DQ’d after he refused to release an RNC against Bogdan Kirilenko. Things got physical between him and ref Marc Goddard.#UAEWarriors12pic.twitter.com/XF1azA1Jzs
The insubordination earned Al Darmaki a disqualification as Kirilenko was declared the winner, although the Abu Dhabi-based fighter reportedly later apologized.
Goddard has had run-ins with fighters in the past, most notably at Bellator 187 in Dublin in 2017, when Conor McGregor stormed the cage to celebrate with victorious teammate Charlie Ward.
Goddard confronted McGregor, who was not a licensed cornerman for the fight, with the Irishman then lashing out and accusing Goddard of stopping the bout too late.
Tweeting after the latest incident, Goddard signaled that he was ready to head home after a month officiating at UFC events on Fight Island in the UAE capital.
All in a days work! 😊Man, am I ready for home! I love the UAE, and it’s people. ❤️God bless.
Fans praised the British official for standing up to Al Darmaki while hailing him as ‘the best in the world’ right now.
I loved that you weren’t scared of him
Just saw the UAE clip. You truly are the best ref in the world right now. After seeing this and the Bogatov fight when he nut shot, eye poked and kicked a downed opponent. You handle very tough situations with grace. As a mma fan I am happy to see you as the Ref in any big fight.
UFC boss Dana White, who is back in Las Vegas for a card this weekend after successfully concluding his series of Fight Island events in Abu Dhabi, also commented on the incident, saying that anyone connected with the organization who confronts an official would be “fired on the spot.”
“If you work for me in any capacity an you approach a referee of an official, I will fire you on the spot. That can never happen here again.”Dana White makes it perfectly clear where he stands with people approaching the referees. pic.twitter.com/Xe6lsoRDKI
Commentator Dan Hardy was recently involved in a heated row with referee Herb Dean over what he felt was a late stoppage on Fight Island.