SBG Ireland fighter Charlie Ward bounced back from two consecutive defeats in the UFC to score a KO win in his Bellator debut at the 3Arena in Dublin on Friday night.
Ward’s victory, however, was cast into the shadows by the subsequent actions of his friend and teammate Conor McGregor.
Ward dropped Dublin veteran John Redmond with a left hook in the embers of the very first round and followed up with a couple of grounded strikes before referee Marc Goddard stepped in. The stocky Laois native began celebrating and was soon joined in the cage by an ecstatic McGregor. ‘The Notorious’ one shouldn’t have been in the cage at that point anyway, but making his invasion even more problematic was the fact that Goddard seemed unsatisfied with the finish.
Watching from cageside, it wasn’t immediately clear what the issue was, but in the moment it seemed to this writer that Goddard had halted the action because the round was at an end rather than the fight.
As Goddard tried to restore some semblance of order, he momentarily put his hands on McGregor, something which produced the opposite of the desired effect. The UFC lightweight champion retaliated by pushing Goddard and had to be held back by officials and security.
— Michael Morgan (@mikewhoatv) November 10, 2017
It was an ugly scene, which was exacerbated moments later when McGregor slapped a Bellator employee.
Once things cooled down, Ward was confusingly declared the winner via first-round KO.
So, what was it that Goddard was trying to communicate in those seconds following Redmond’s collapse and just before order disintegrated in the wake of the latest episode of ‘The McGregor Show’?
Shortly after the decision was announced, Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith offered an explanation via Twitter. Smith said a commissioner had informed him that Goddard wasn’t sure about the timing of his intervention amidst the raucous din at the 3Arena and whether it had actually come before the bell to end the round. The English referee simply wanted a review to take place before a decision was officially rendered.
“Commissioner told me after the fight that ref was trying to clear the cage to verify KO was before the bell, hence putting hands on Connor and the melee began,” wrote Smith.
Commissioner told me after the fight that ref was trying to clear the cage to verify KO was before the bell, hence putting hands on Connor and the melee began
— Jimmy Smith (@jimmysmithmma) November 10, 2017
Given that the official time of the stoppage was subsequently given as 4:59, one can understand Goddard’s desire to seek verification.
During a post-fight media scrum, Ward told a similar story.
“I hit him a left hook and then hit him another two or three on the ground, and then the ref jumped in and stopped it,” said Ward. “What I seen – because I hit him when he was on the ground – he was well out. And then the ref started saying that it wasn’t over, but they went back in to check the time, and it was over(via SevereMMA).”
Ward refused to comment on the incident involving his teammate, McGregor.