The controversy continues. Following Claudia Gadelha’s unanimous decision win over Cortney Casey at UFC Fight Night 100, the main story emerging from the fight was one of governing bodies and application of the rules. In round three, Gadelha appeared to kick a clearly downed Casey in the head. Referee Fernando Portella consulted briefly with CABMMA, the Brazilian athletic commission, before resuming the bout with no point deduction.
In a statement released after the fight, CABMMA COO Cristiano Sampaio was critical of Casey, and defended the decision.
"Because the kick didn’t land, the athlete forged the injury," Sampaio said in a statement. "Had she not done that, and not used that time to her benefit and rest, he would have deducted the point. Had the kick landed, Claudia could get two points deducted or being disqualified. (Casey’s) conduct was wrong and unsportsmanlike, which could even be interpreted by the referee as she was giving up on the fight. The point was not deducted because of her attitude. It was an atypical situation and (the referee) acted correctly under our interpretation."
Casey, speaking to MMAJunkie, was unhappy with the statement.
“I’m just there to do my job, to put on a show for all the fans, and that’s all I want to do,” she said. “I don’t want people to look at me any differently. I don’t want my character to be judged. I just want to people to look at it from both sides.
“I don’t make excuses for anything,” she said. “That’s what hurts the most, people thinking I was looking for a way out. I don’t understand why people are getting mad at me.”
Sampaio has now released a second statement, walking back some of the criticisms leveled against Casey.
“Due to the repercussion on the incident between Courtney and Gadelha on UFC Bader vs Minotouro, held in São Paulo/SP on November 19th, 2016, The Brazilian Athletic Commission (CABMMA) would like to clearly state that it does not, in its role as a regulator, judge the character of any competitor, enroll on false public accusations with the intent to jeopardize their history or future in the sport, and most certainly does not analyze any other circumstance which is not directly related to the regulation of the event, the license athletes and other professionals involved in their responsibility.
"The major concern with the incident was to apply the correct judgement call interpreted by the referee, Commission, and medical staff using their knowledge and commission's guidelines and additional resources. Which in this case, replays shown in different angles, on the exact moment of the incident.
Finally, if the interpretation of the decision upon the conclusion of the fight has been interpreted in a different and distorted way beyond what was officially meant to, which was to determine the correct call, it should be condemned and discarded.
CABMMA stands by its decision related to this case, but repeals and fully disagrees with any negativity towards Courtney Casey´s character as a professional women athlete of MMA.”
While it is a pleasant twist in the story that the harsh criticisms Casey received have been retracted - or at least denied - the anguish of being accused of poor sportsmanship by a governing body is still a terrible turn of events for the American strawweight.
While the situation was poorly handled, this clarification may offer some peace to Casey, who was definitively accused of egregious conduct in an ambiguous situation which warranted a more deliberate and measured response.