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UFC President Dana White said he thought the CABMMA should “bury” Roy Nelson after the heavyweight kicked referee John McCarthy following his win at UFC Fight Night 95. The Brazilian commission, however, decided on a far smaller punishment.

Following his second-round knockout of Antonio Silva (19-10-1 MMA, 3-7-1 UFC) at the event at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil, Nelson (21-13 MMA, 9-9 UFC) approached “Big” John from behind and gave him a light kick to the butt followed by the middle finger and a verbal lashing.

Nelson believed McCarthy stopped the fight late, forcing him to land what he felt like were unnecessary additional blows on “Bigfoot,” a fighter Nelson has trained with in the past and considers a good friend.

A judge with the Brazilian sports court subsequently suspended Nelson (21-13 MMA, 9-9 UFC) nine months and fined him approximately $23,400 for contacting McCarthy following a knockout win over Antonio Silva (19-10-1 MMA, 3-7-1 UFC) at the FS1-televised event on Sept. 26 in Brasilia.

The judge rejected Nelson’s appeal that cited a fear of Brazilian fans and a complicated relationship with McCarthy as the reason for the kick, stating “even if (the actions) were right, the athlete has the obligation to respect the honor, to preserve the health, physical and moral integrity of the referee, and of all the others involved in the accomplishment of a competition. On the basis of the reasons given, it is inadmissible that personal issues are grounds for ethical and unsportsmanlike conduct.”

The judge ruled that Nelson didn’t intend to injure McCarthy and decided against a potential one-year suspension and $32,156 fine. He also gave the fighter the chance to reduce the suspension and fine with a public apology, but “only if the producer (UFC) authorizes the reported athlete to make the formal apology within the octagon or at a press conference by (Dec. 31) and preferably in the presence of the offended referee,” court president Marcelo Sedlmayer Jorge wrote in his decision.

Nelson, the No. 14 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, took the opportunity and used the official weigh-ins for this past Saturday’s The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale event to express contrition (check out video of the apology above).

“First I would like to apologize to the fans, who make our sport,” Nelson said. “(And) the Brazilian commission, John McCarthy, and the rest of the world, my team and especially my family, for my actions in my last fight.

“My actions were out of character. I have nothing against anyone, including John McCarthy. I recognize what I did was a mistake was wrong. I can’t apologize enough to John McCarthy, the commission and MMA fans around the world. I can’t wait to get back into the octagon to entertain the fans.”

Today, the court announced a reduction in the punishment. Rather than a nine-month suspension, Nelson will only be required to be out of action for six months. He will be eligible to return to action on March 29.

The news was initially announced by ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto on Twitter and subsequently confirmed by a press release from the commission.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 95, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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