Nevada denies Gabriel Gonzaga's appeal of TUF 17 Finale loss


travis-browne-16.jpgAn appeal filed earlier this month by Gabriel Gonzaga has been denied, according to his manager.

Marco Alvan, who trains and manages the onetime UFC heavyweight title challenger, today said he and Gonzaga (14-7 MMA, 10-6 UFC) received word from the Nevada Attorney General’s office that the result of his fight with Travis Browne (14-1-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC) at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale will remain a TKO win for Browne.

“While we disagree and are disappointed with the commission’s decision, we respect it,” Alvan told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Gonzaga would rather settle things in the cage with Travis if the UFC gives him the opportunity.”

Jennifer Lopez, the public information officer for Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, could not immediately verify whether the appeal had been denied. However, MMAjunkie.com obtained a copy of the ruling, in which Masto states, “Nevada law does not provide a procedure to challenge or overturn a decision based on the allegations in your letter.”

Browne’s manager, John Fosco, expressed sympathy for Gonzaga’s claims and said the controversy may have stemmed from his fighter’s unusual ability to stop fighters in close quarters.

“We completely support Gabriel or any athlete exercising their right to go through the proper channels and to find out how the system views a decision that they feel strongly about,” Fosco said. “We felt that Travis did absolutely nothing illegal. Travis went into the cage and did what he had to do. But it’s a relief for Travis to be vindicated.”

Alvan and Dan Hagan, a lawyer representing the fighter, sent a letter to Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer on April 17 in hopes of getting the fight’s official result changed to a no-decision or disqualification. It cited several statutes from state athletic commission in claiming that the bout’s referee incorrectly interpreted the rules prior to the bout’s stoppage, and as such, the rules allowed for a change of decision.

In a previous interview, Kizer said he wasn’t aware of a “legal or factual” basis to change the TKO result but deferred to the attorney general’s office to make a ruling. NSAC statutes say a decision may be changed in the event of collusion affecting the result of the bout, an error in scoring, or “as the result of an error in interpreting a provision of this chapter … (and the) referee has rendered an incorrect decision.”

Early in the first round of the fight, which took place April 13 at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center, Gonzaga shot for a takedown against the fence and took six elbows to the head, after which he crumpled to the mat unconscious. The official time of stoppage came at the 1:11 mark of the first round.

Gonzaga’s camp contended the referee, Chris Tognoni, failed to recognize “one or more” fouls and should have issued a verbal warning or noted an infraction. A video of the sequence, which highlighted the elbow strikes with audible rings of a bell, was included in the complaint. The fourth elbow appears to land at or near the back of Gonzaga’s head and is a catalyst for his fall to the mat, after which he takes two more elbows and the referee stops the bout.

Strikes to the back of the head are considered a foul according to the Unified Rules of MMA. However, many referees and commission representatives contend that illegal blows landed as the direct result of legal blows are not counted as fouls.

“These fouls impacted the result of the contest, as they occurred prior to the referee moving in to stop the fight and determining Gonzaga could not continue,” stated the complaint, a copy of which MMAjunkie.com obtained. “A referee who was operating under an accurate interpretation of the commission’s regulations would have stopped the contest upon viewing a foul and, under these circumstances, declared the contest a ‘no decision’ … or a disqualification of Travis Browne.”

Gonzaga’s loss snapped a three-fight win streak, which came after back-to-back octagon losses that prompted his release from the UFC. Browne, meanwhile, got back in the winner’s circle following a TKO loss to Antonio Silva that snapped his own three-fight streak.

Asked whether Browne would consider a rematch with Gonzaga, Fosco said, “At this point, Travis beat Gabriel fair and square. The decision reflects that. Travis is looking at one goal, and that one goal is the UFC heavyweight belt.”

For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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