Referee Jason Herzog Makes Crucial Call in Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix Quarterfinal, Prioritizes Fighter Safety

In a thrilling quarterfinal battle of the Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix, referee Jason Herzog made a crucial call that determined the outcome of the fight between Alexander Shabliy and Tofiq Musayev. The match ended in a third-round TKO, but the ending sequence was not immediately clear, as Herzog had to pause the action to deal with Musayev’s alleged response to a low blow. Despite some confusion and criticism on social media, Herzog was later vindicated when it was announced that Shabliy’s kick had broken Musayev’s rib.

In a post-fight interview, Herzog emphasized that his top priority as a referee is the safety of the fighters. His swift action and careful assessment of the situation not only ensured that the fighters were safe, but also had a significant impact on the outcome of the fight. It’s clear that Herzog’s expertise and dedication to his craft make him an invaluable asset to the world of MMA.

“We can see from the replay and I can see in real time it was a fair blow. But there’s incidental contact to the cup on the way down, we can also see this. Cup shots are very difficult because as we know, sometimes a light brush causes a lot of damage, so we must give him a little time for this. But the fair blow is what caused the real damage here. We’re not going to allow a fighter to continue, obviously if he can’t continue we’re going to stop this fight. The fair blow is what caused the significance of this damage that he is feeling. The incidental contact with the cup is what gave him time.”

Herzog answered to online critics:



Herzog also clarified how his conversation with Musayev’s translator was.

“We brought his translator up to make sure it was communicated to him fully that if he cannot continue, this fight is going to be ended due to that fair blow and it will be a TKO,” Herzog said. “The translator did it once, [Musayev] shook his head, kind of half nodding. The translator walked away and I said, ‘Come back. I want to make sure this is very clear for you. If you cannot continue, this fight is over for a TKO.’ He said that again as best as I expect, [Musayev] shook his head no, he can’t continue, so the fight’s ended because of a TKO strike.

“A little bit ugly to watch, like, ‘Hey, what’s happening here?’ But there’s two things that we can see very clearly from the replay. One, that the initial strikes was fair; two, that he brushed the cup on the way down. So we give both of those things a little bit of time and the credit goes to the TKO strike, which it was.”

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