Nfld. & Labrador

'Stop blaming the ref,' says N.L. mixed martial arts fighter after brutal loss

Newfoundland mixed martial arts fighter Gavin Tucker lost his second UFC fight this weekend, and many are criticizing the official for not stopping the fight earlier.

Four broken bones for Gavin Tucker, who defended referee some are blaming for not stopping fight sooner

Fighter Gavin Tucker with referee Kyle Cardinal, following his UFC loss Saturday night in Edmonton. (Twitter/@MMAFighting)

Gavin Tucker wound up with four broken bones in his face after his second UFC fight Saturday, a match that many commentators said should have been stopped sooner.

But Tucker says it wasn't the referee's fault.

"Stop blaming the ref for a bad call," wrote Tucker in a Facebook post Monday morning.

"That man let me go out on my shield. He visited while I was in the hospital and apologized. I didn't stop fighting. He saw that. He should sleep easy."

Tucker, who is from Ship Cove on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula, won his debut UFC fight back in February. But Saturday night in Edmonton at UFC 215, facing fellow featherweight Rick Glenn, was a different story.

During and after the fight, social media was filled with comments from people asking why the fight wasn't stopped earlier, when it was clear Tucker was having trouble recovering but continued to take shots at the hands of Glenn.

Even UFC president Dana White said the fight should not have gone on as long as it did.

E. Spencer Kyte, an MMA writer who contributes to the Vancouver Province, was one of many who said referee Kyle Cardinal should have called the fight earlier.

"He [Tucker] is absolutely a tough kid and you want to see referees give these fighters a chance to defend themselves, come back and rally," he told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

"But it was pretty obvious early into the third round, after a very dominant second round that Gavin wasn't going to recover and win that fight."

In his Facebook post, Tucker said he appreciates the support on social media, but he simply lost — despite fighting his heart out.

"I have no excuses and won't stand for anyone making them for me," he wrote.

"That's not how the north folk get it done."

Kyte said the referees are picked by the local governing bodies wherever the fight is held. In the case of Alberta, that is a municipal jurisdiction and was overseen by the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission.

Kyte said as far as he can tell, Saturday night was Kyle Cardinal's first time officiating at that level, and he has since been pulled by the commission.

"It was maybe a case of a referee being a little bit overmatched for the magnitude of the match he was assigned. It just turned into a bad match up. Gavin is tough as nails, and came out tough as nails in the first round," he said.

"But it got to the point where it was tough to watch."

In Newfoundland, friends and family were glued to their TVs on Saturday to see their hometown fighter in his second UFC fight.

Terrance Regular watched with Tucker's mom, and while he wouldn't comment on her reaction to the fight, he said everyone was still proud to see him fighting at that level, despite Saturday's brutal loss.

"Gav is a monster, but you could tell he took a good smack, but the ref just kept it going," he said on Monday.

"But you can't win them all. He's the talk of the town, for sure. He puts Ship Cove on the map. This is only going to make him stronger. He's going to tear it up. There's no stopping him." 


With files from the St. John's Morning Show