By Elias Cepeda
Cole Miller was confused. Near the end of the first round of his UFC Fight Night 26 featherweight fight against Manny Gamburyan this past Saturday, “The Anvil” was working for a double leg takedown against the cage on Miller when Cole defended and hit him with two elbows before the horn.
The elbows were ruled legal and they hurt Gamburyan. Bad.
So much so that the former title challenger slumped down to his knees in an apparent daze and could not immediately stand up and walk to his own corner. In fact, he was on his knees in Miller’s corner.
“I didn’t really get it,” Cole told CagePotato on Sunday. “I looked at [referee ] Yves Lavigne, he was looking at Manny. I was unsure if the fight was over or if time had expired. I was looking for the ref to give us an idea of whether there was finality in the fight, or if it was an illegal blow. Later, Yves told me was a legal blow and so does the video. But at the time, if it was illegal I was looking for him to say so, take a point, give me a warning, call the fight or something. It was a confusing situation. Yves told me to go to my corner but I told him, ‘I am in my corner.’ The way Manny was there on the ground in my corner, I couldn’t raise my hands, walk away and go to my corner or anything. They actually moved me and my corner to another area while he stayed there on the ground. Yves was pointing to a direction for me to go. I was thinking, ‘I’m in my corner. Someone needs to take him to his corner.’ Over a minute and twenty passed before they had the doctor even look at him.”
The break between rounds for fighters is a minute long. If a fighter cannot answer the start of the next round, they lose, normally. Examples of this have been seen throughout MMA, kickboxing and boxing history.
If you’re so beat up that you can’t answer the next round’s bell, you’re done. You’ve lost.
Gamburyan, of course, didn’t lose the fight. He was given far more time to recover than he was supposed to be allowed, and then he continued on for two more rounds. After three rounds, he was declared the winner by the judges, presumably on the basis of his repeated leg kicks, take downs and ground control.
In a post fight interview with MMA Fighting, Gamburyan acknowledged that “maybe” the fight should have been stopped after the first round, though he disagrees with Miller that the strikes were legal. UFC President Dana White said that he scored the fight for Miller, who left Gamburyan’s face a cut, bloodied and swollen mess, but said that Cole essentially sabotaged himself by sticking around Manny after the first round and appearing to check on his condition. White told reporters after the event that Miller should have just gone to his corner.
“I was in my corner.” the irritated ATT fighter emphasizes. “I was in my corner. Where was I supposed to go? I hit him with legal blows and he couldn’t continue and couldn’t go to his corner. I was kind of propping him up so he wouldn’t fall on my leg. I couldn’t walk off to get instruction, we were already there in my corner.”
That confusion and officiating mishandling aside, Miller feels that he won the fight a second time, or deserved to. “I don’t really know how they score things in Massachusetts,” he says.
“I don’t know if they score things differently for MMA or what. The effective grappling part definitely went to Manny because of his takedowns. I wasn’t able to do anything about that, he had all takedowns but I had all the striking and did all the damage. I cut him twice. He’s a tough dude, to his credit. He earned every bit of it. I hit him with knees, punches and kicks so hats off to him. I just think they made the wrong call. I was trying to finish my opponent the whole fight.”
Cole and Manny were friendly before the fight, knowing one another since they spent six weeks training together on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter on Jens Pulver’s team. With such a bitter taste in his mouth about this fight Cole insists that he still doesn’t harbor any negative feelings against Gamburyan.
“Manny didn’t do anything wrong. He fought the way he knows how and I fought the way I know how,” he says.
“He didn’t get the judges to call his name. He’s good and he fought well. I was just throwing those knees to take his head off. I’m not going to bug him for getting the decision.”
Cole says he doesn’t count this fight as a loss and, although he’d be willing to rematch Gamburyan, he isn’t calling for a re-do. “I’ve never wanted a rematch with anybody,” Cole maintains.
“A fight is a fight. If the UFC wants to make that happen, I’ll rematch anybody. But, I don’t want a rematch. For what? I fought the kind of fight I fight and he fought the way he fights. The judges made the wrong call, that’s it. There is no need for a rematch.”