In a recent ARES Fighting Championship event, MMA fans witnessed a disheartening turn of events as a referee’s inconsistency marred a welterweight bout between Mohamad Baillot and Gaetan Dambo at ARES 18 on December 15 in Levallois-Perret, France.
While MMA referees play a crucial role in ensuring fighter safety and enforcing rules, they are not immune to errors. Unfortunately, at ARES 18, a referee’s indecisiveness led to a confusing and anti-climactic ending to an otherwise successful event.
The welterweight clash on the preliminary card started with both prospects, Baillot and Dambo, displaying impressive skills in the first round. The intensity continued into the second round, where Dambo gained the upper hand. Overwhelming Baillot with a precise combination, Dambo took the fight to the ground and initiated a dominant ground-and-pound.
— UFC FIGHT PASS (@UFCFightPass) December 15, 2023
However, Dambo’s success took a dark turn when he landed powerful elbows to the back of Baillot’s head, prompting a warning from the referee. Despite the warning, Dambo persisted with the illegal strikes. The referee intervened, stopping the match, and initially disqualified Dambo for the blatant infraction.
In a bizarre turn of events, the referee then reversed his decision, opting for a point deduction instead of disqualification. The sudden change created chaos in the cage, with cornermen from both sides engaging in heated arguments with the referee.
— French MMA (@FrenchMma_) December 15, 2023
Ultimately, the referee reconsidered his decision once again and reinstated the disqualification for Dambo. The confusion left Dambo celebrating prematurely, only to face the disappointment of a disqualification on his debut match. Meanwhile, Baillot maintained his undefeated record with three victories.
The incident highlighted the challenges referees face and the potential impact of inconsistent decisions on the fighters and the overall fan experience. ARES 18, while featuring thrilling matchups and memorable moments, will be remembered for the unfortunate controversy surrounding the welterweight bout.