Roy Nelson's "Attack" on John McCarthy Is Now Before a Brazilian Superior Court

Fightland Blog

By Josh Rosenblatt

Time was a UFC fighter laid his hands on a referee his punishment was swift and brutal. Back in the summer of 2014 Jason High shoved Kevin Mulhall after losing on a Saturday and by Tuesday the UFC had fired him. At the time UFC President Dana White said the decision to drop High was a “no-brainer.”

“I don’t care how mad you are, how upset you are,” White said. “You don’t touch a referee ever. Unforgivable. Don’t come back, ever.”

Today is now the Tuesday after the Saturday Roy “Big Country” Nelson kick-pushed referee “Big” John McCarthy for being too slow to stop his beating of “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC Fight Night 95 in Brasilia, and so far no sword has been dropped on the heavyweight’s neck. The furthest White has been willing to go this time is to say that Nelson “needs to be buried” for what he did. What that means we don’t know, but it does sound like any burying of Roy Nelson will be done not by White or the UFC but by Brazilian authorities.

Appearing on the UFC Unfiltered podcast today White told hosts Matt Serra and Jim Norton that “if the Brazilian athletic commission doesn’t rain on him it’s not good.” Not good? That’s it, Dana? Maybe the days of swift passionate South Boston-style MMA justice are over, swallowed up by Reebok endorsement deals and $4 billion sales and replaced by the slow, thoughtful deliberations of anti-doping agencies, athletic commissions, and—who would have thought?—federal superior courts. 

According to the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission, CABMMA, the case of Roy Nelson and his errant foot will be taken up by the newly formed Superior Justice Court of Sports for MMA. Under the dictates of the Brazilian Sports Code every sports federation in the country must have its own court system that acts independently of the federation to protect athlete’s rights, including State Sports Courts to handle local cases and a Superior Sports Court to handle national and multi-state issues. These courts are governed by a nine-member panel of judges representing various interests of a particular sport, like promoters, referees, and fighters.

In an email sent yesterday to MMAJunkie, CABMMA spokesperson Cristiano Sampaio wrote, “Even though CABMMA understands Roy Nelson’s ‘frustration’ in that situation due to his close relationship with his opponent, that does not justify his act and can open a serious and dangerous precedent in the sport. We, as the regulation body of MMA in Brazil and member of the Association of Boxing Commissions, will not tolerate such conduct. … All the licensed professionals involved have to act accordingly, respecting the rules, commission, promoter and fans, where unsportsmanlike behavior will be subject to fines and suspensions.”

According to the Brazilian Sports Code, the court has seven days to file a complaint against Nelson.

As for the longtime UFC heavyweight and thorn in Dana White’s side, I guess no kind-of-good deed goes unpunished. At the post-fight press conference on Saturday night Nelson told reporters he wasn’t trying to hurt McCarthy; he was just mad at the referee for making him inflict what he saw an unnecessary damage on an opponent Nelson likes personally, and lost his cool as a result.

"I didn't want to hurt ‘Bigfoot' more than I had to," Nelson said. "And I got taken by the moment, because it's like I'm beating the shit out of somebody and you're like, ‘Dude, enough is enough.’ And for me, it hurt my feelings. And I apologize to Big John, but I wouldn't take it back. It just hurt me that I've got to keep on hitting a guy that doesn't need to be hit.”

That may be true and noble, but now it’s a matter for the Brazilian justice system to decide. And as far as I’m concerned you can keep your movie cameos and your late-night talk-show appearances when we’re talking about MMA making it to the big time. There’s now a superior court in Brazil wondering why “Big Country” Nelson kicked “Big” John McCarthy in the ass.


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