Liverpool fighter Darren Till was knocked out by Jorge Masvidal in the second round of their welterweight contest at UFC London – but the American’s victory was overshadowed by a backstage altercation.
After the fight, footage emerged of Masvidal breaking off from an interview to confront Jamaica-born, Birmingham fighter Leon Edwards, with the pair trading blows.
In an ESPN video posted to Twitter, Masvidal could be heard saying, “Come over here, say that to my face”, before security teams were seen to intervene to break up the fighters and the footage cut off.
A longer video posted on ESPN‘s MMA YouTube page showed Edwards with a cut under his left eye.
Later, Masvidal retweeted a video of an interview with the sports broadcaster, where he explained the incident.
He said: “As I walk up to him, I’ve got my hands behind my back to signal I’m not coming here for problems. But he put his hands up like this. It’s on video, and he walks towards me.
“Well, where I’m from, if you do that, you’re going to punch me in the face. That’s not going to happen.
“So I gave him the three piece with the soda, and then just glide out of there.”
Beforehand in the octagon, 26-year-old Till was headlining at the O2 and back in action since suffering a first defeat as a professional to UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley last September in Dallas.
However, Till, third in the UFC rankings and seeking another crack at the title belt against newly crowned champion Kamaru Usman, was put down by a strong left-hand shot from veteran Masvidal.
Till spent the early part of his professional career in Brazil, with Saturday’s main event contest only a second fight in England for the Merseysider on an evening when Michael Bisping was entered into the Hall of Fame.
Following a raucous welcome by the sell-out crowd on the banks of the Thames, Masvidal landed a low kick during the opening exchanges with Till then landing a jab which put the American down.
However, Masvidal, who boasted a record of 32 wins and 13 losses coming into the octagon on Saturday night, then delivered a viscous left which rocked Till and sent the Englishman to the floor, before he was struck again ahead of the contest being ended by referee Marc Goddard.
Following treatment by medical staff, which looked to include oxygen, Till was brought round before returning to his dressing room.
Masvidal paid tribute to Till during his post-fight victory speech.
“Whether you booed or cheered, this is mindblowing – thank you,” he said on BT Sport.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better opponent. He’s got so much further to go, he’s a young tiger right now. I’m 34 and near the end of my career.”
Appearing to target a title shot himself, the American added: “Back to business, I need that belt around my waist.
“He’s only lost one fight before this so that shows that I deserve my opportunity. I need that belt around my waist.
“First round was definitely his, I couldn’t handle his timing. By the second, I settled down and found my rhythm. I love this sport. I’m here to fight the best in the world and I want the champion right now.”
Elsewhere on the under card, Edwards had earlier taken a split decision in his welterweight bout against Gunnar Nelson, who is Conor McGregor’s training partner.
UFC executive David Shaw told a press conference the incident between Edwards and Masvidal would be reviewed before deciding whether any sanctions should be handed out.
“Too early to tell, we’ll review it. Dana (White, UFC president) is already looking at it. We’ll review everything, all the details, over the weekend, Monday morning, and take next steps from there,” he said.
London bantamweight Nathaniel Wood, meanwhile, defeated Jose Alberto Quinonez via a second-round submission for his eighth MMA win in a row.
Copy provided by Press Association Sport
Lewis earned the shot at the title after beating Alexander Volkov barely a month ago, but his quick return to the octagon failed to pay off after he tapped out in the second round of the clash in New York.
American Cormier controlled the bout from the start, grabbing a takedown after barely a minute in the first round.
Cormier got stung by a right hand from Lewis in the second but the champion soon had his opponent back on the canvas, a rear-naked choke finishing the job at 2.14.
With the the victory, Cormier has become the first man to defend both the light-heavyweight and heavyweight belts.
Quoted on the UFC website, Cormier said after the fight: “There are no surprises with me. I come in here and try to do my thing.
“If you come in here with a puncher’s chance, it’s not enough. You have to be one of the best in the world to be able to compete. Derrick is good, but he’s not at that level yet.”
Before the main event, Karl Roberson earned a convincing unanimous decision over Welshman Jack Marshman in their middleweight bout.
Marshman was looking to bounce back after his loss against Antonio Carlos Jr last month, but was denied after three rounds at Madison Square Garden.
Former kickboxer Roberson, on the back of suffering his first pro defeat against Cezar Ferreira at UFC 224, set the tone in the first round, attempting an early head kick which was blocked by Marshman.
Marshman struggled to land his punches and did his best to find his target with leg kicks, but was sent to the fence by a series of left hands from Roberson.
In the second, Marshman came out strong, unleashing a barrage of blows, but a takedown from Roberson looked to have secured him the round.
The 28-year-old continued to dominate with his left hand in the third, winning the decision victory 30-26, 30-26, 30-27.
Arabian Gulf League side Al Wahda welcomed UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to the Al Nahyan Stadium on Wednesday.
The Abu Dhabi side posted pictures on their social media accounts of the Russian fighter posing with fans and officials with his own Al Wahda shirt.
The 30-year-old is on vacation in the UAE just three weeks after his victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 229.
Both fighters are currently suspended pending an investigation by the Nevada State Athletic Commission following a melee which broke out after their bout on October 6.
The Nevada Commission reportedly voted to uphold temporary suspensions for both fighters until a hearing in December.
The commission voted to release half – $1million – of Nurmagomedov’s purse after initially holding all of his earnings.
The other half of the Russian’s prize money will be withheld until after the disciplinary hearing.