Referee reveals he refused Adesanya x Poatan and talks behind the scenes of controversial UFC rematch

Controversial decision and unusual request marked the final chapter in the middleweight rivalry, held in April 2023

Alex Poatan (left) knocked out Israel Adesanya (right) at UFC 281. Photo: Reproduction/Instagram

Alex Poatán (left) knocked out Israel adesanya (dir.) in UFC 281. Photo: Reproduction/Instagram

Marc Goddard turned down the opportunity to referee the rematch between Israel adesanya x Alex Poatán, which happened in UFC 287, in April 2023. The decision, taken at the request of the experienced referee himself, surprised the MMA community, but was supported by a noble reason: the protection of the former middleweight champion (up to 83,9kg.).

More than a year after the incident, Goddard decided to come clean and reveal the reason why he refused to referee the rematch between the fighters, which took place at UFC 287 and ended with Adesanya's knockout victory. In an interview with the 'Overdogs' podcast, by Mike Perry, the referee explained that the decision was taken in favor of the health and safety of the Nigerian in UFC.

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"When Israel adesanya fought Alex Pereira for the second time in Miami, I specifically asked not to do that fight. I refereed the first fight (which Adesanya lost). The reason I asked not to do the fight was because I was thinking about Izzy. I've refereed him ever since, refereed his fight with Sean Strickland. I was thinking about a fighter at that moment. This was his night, it was about him,” Goddard said.

The controversy surrounding the referee in Adesanya x Poatan began in the first fight, at UFC 281, when Marc divided opinions about the interruption in favor of the Brazilian in the fifth round, as part of the fans claimed that the Nigerian still had a chance of reversing the result, especially since he was winning on the judges' scorecard.

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Regardless of the differences, the rematch between the two fighters in UFC 287 it was a real spectacle. Adesanya, pressured by the previous defeat, attacked Poatan from the beginning of the fight and, in a moment of defense, delivered a series of brutal blows that resulted in the technical knockout.

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