The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 190 between Ovince Saint Preux and Tanner Boser ended in a knockout in the second round, but not without a controversial moment just prior to the stoppage.
Saint Preux (25-16 MMA, 13-11 UFC) had Boser (20-8-1 MMA, 4-3 UFC) on his back close to the fence after securing a takedown. Boser tried to improve his posture by pushing himself away from Saint Preux, including using his right hand against the fence for leverage.
At the moment, it appeared Boser may have grabbed the fence to pull himself up, which prompted referee Jason Herzog to step in and touch both fighters, an action that usually signals a pause to the action. However, Herzog did not pause the action after making contact and allowed the fight to continue.
Alternate replay angles shown during the broadcast made it appear that Boser’s fist was closed as he pushed against the fence, which is legal. He also denied grabbing the fence during the post-fight news conference.
The action resulted in Boser getting back to his feet and landing strikes that resulted in a knockout stoppage just a few seconds later.
MMA Junkie confirmed Saint Preux now plans to protest the result following a report from MMA Fighting, claiming the referee’s actions caused him to pause during a key moment of the fight.
“I felt the ref put his hand on my back, which is only done to pause the action or call a finish,” Saint Preux said in a statement. “I slightly paused and then the tide turned. We will be protesting and requesting a no-contest.”
Saint Preux’s return to the heavyweight division did not go as planned as he was down on the scorecards after the first round. If Saturday’s second-round stoppage result stands after appeal, he will be 0-2 in the weight class.