On September 24, 2016, at UFC Fight Night 95, in Brasilia, Brazil, Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson stopped his friend Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva via strikes in the second. Nelson felt that referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy waited too long to stop the fight, so he kicked him and flipped him off.
Nelson later apologized, but “wouldn’t take it back.”
Cristiano Sampaio, director of Brazil’s regulating body, the Comissao Atletica Brasileira de MMA (CABMMA), explained that the incident would be taken up by Brazil’s Superior Justice Court of Sport, which handles judicial questions pertaining to sports in Brazil. The newly formed Superior Justice Court for MMA (STJDMMA) investigated and filed a formal complaint with the STJD. Then the STJDMMA rendered a decision – Nelson was suspended for nine months, and fined $24,000, a reduction from a potential 25-month suspension and a $40,000 fine.
The STJDMMA also offering Nelson a chance to reduce his suspension to six-months and his fine to $13,700 fine, if the UFC permitted hm to formally apologize before December 31. Ideally it was to be inside the Octagon or during some form of press conference, preferably with McCarthy in attendance.
On December 2, at The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale official early weigh-ins at The Palms in Las Vegas, Nelson read from a prepared statement.
“First, I’d like to apologize to the fans who make our sport, the Brazilian commission, John McCarthy, the rest of the world, my team, and especially my family for my actions in my last fight,” said Nelson. “My actions were out of character.
“I have nothing against anyone, including John McCarthy. I recognize what I did was a mistake and I was wrong. I can’t apologize enough to John McCarthy, the commission, and the MMA fans around the world. I can’t wait to get back in the Octagon to entertain the fans.”
STJDMMA found Nelson’s public apology acceptable, he is eligible to fight on March 29, 2017.
However, UFC president Dana White was not impressed.
“The ref is in there for your safety, to stop the fight, and whatever,” said White on the latest UFC Unfiltered podcast, as transcribed by Jeff Cain for MMA Weekly. “You don’t ever, ever put your hands on the referee. Ever! Or your feet, or anything else.”
“Here’s the problem with the apology, right after the fight at the post-fight press conference, they asked him a question like, ‘why did you do that?’ He said something like, ‘I did it, but I’m not sorry I did it. I did it, and I’d do it again,’ or something like that. Coming back to apologize just so you can get a lighter sentence doesn’t really seem like an apology to me.”
“He doesn’t like John McCarthy. Okay? Listen, my whole career with John McCarthy hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows either, but John McCarthy is one of the best to do it. He’s in there for your protection and everything else. And he’s not a fighter. You don’t put your hands on him, ever.”
“There’s a difference between… When two guys that are professional athletes sign a contract to go in and fight one another for money, you’re a professional athlete. When you put your hands on anybody else other than that guy, it’s assault. It’s a crime. Whether it happens in the Octagon or wherever, it’s a crime.”