This past weekend, the main fight on the UFC Vegas 26 prelims played host to some controversy when Randa Markos was disqualified in the first round of her bout with Luana Pinheiro for throwing an illegal upkick that rendered Pinheiro unable to continue. After the bout, Markos accused Pinheiro of taking a dive to get the win, a belief shared by several other fans and fighters. Notably though, it’s a view that is not shared by one of the men closest to the action on Saturday night.
UFC Hall of Famer and current color commentator Michael Bisping was sitting cageside for the fight between Pinheiro and Markos and the former middleweight champion believes Pinheiro truly was unable to continue, even if the incident looked a little weird.
“Listen, a lot of people are suggesting that she was acting and I think that’s a little unfair, to be honest,” Bisping said on his Believe You Me podcast. “I spoke to some people and they thought she was hurt and some people said she was laying it on thick. I guess the only thing is, if you look when she gets hit in the face and I feel like this is why some people are maybe saying she was acting – and by the way, I’m not saying that, I think she took an upkick to the face and she was clearly dominating and she was on the path to victory before (the disqualification) – but look at her hands. The hands come back to catch herself. Watch as she hits the floor, she doesn’t catch herself but the hands go back. People are saying, ‘Well, if you’re knocked out, your hands wouldn’t go back to catch yourself.’”
Pinheiro’s arm going back in break fall position does appear to be one of the key arguments that those who believe Pinheiro was faking it point to as proof of her skullduggery. The other is Pinheiro’s somewhat delayed reaction to receiving the kick and, as fellow UFC commentator Paul Felder put it on Saturday, the fact that Pinheiro was hit with the toes, not Markos’ heel, which would have been a much more damaging strike. However, as Bisping points out, Pinheiro was clearly winning the fight up until the DQ and her reaction after suffering the kick certainly seemed genuine.
“It’s worth mentioning that Luana Pinheiro, she was making her UFC debut after an impressive performance on the Contender (Series),” Bisping said. “She was dominating this fight. She was looking so f***ing good and then this (happened)… She gets upkicked in the face with toes, not the heel – the heel, obviously, hurts way more than the toes – and then the doctor comes over and she says “Is the fight over? Did I get knocked out or did I knock her out?” She said something that alluded to the fact that she wasn’t really sure where she was or what was happening.”
In the aftermath of the fight, parallels have been drawn between Pinheiro’s DQ win and bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling’s title win over then-champion Petr Yan, who illegally kneed Sterling in the head in the fourth round of their fight, resulting in a DQ win for “The Funkmaster.” And like with that situation, Bisping argues that even if Pinheiro was less hurt than she seemed, she was still clearly affected by an illegal blow and ultimately, that strike and what happens afterwards are not her fault. Markos is the one who performed the illegal action and the consequences are hers to bear.
“The thing is, she was winning the fight, she was dominating the fight, however, she was struck with an illegal blow that clearly hit her hard enough to knock her back, really,” Bisping concluded. “Faking or not, that was initiated by the kick to the face that trajected her body back to the canvas. It was a hard shot, is what I’m trying to say. So she’s been hit with an illegal shot so realistically, it’s not her obligation to continue. Now, as a fan and as a former fighter, yeah, you say ‘I’m fine’ and you continue. As a fan, you want to see someone say, ‘Nah, f*** that. That’s not how I want to win.’ But if she is hurt, just like Aljamain Sterling – you’ve got to give Aljamain, be honest, same thing. He’s taken an illegal blow, he’s hurt, and if the referee disqualifies your opponent, that’s not really your fault. You shouldn’t take flak, backlash from the fans or anybody for that because you never pulled the trigger on that illegal move.”
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Fighting is easy to me.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) May 4, 2021
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Jessica Eye is gonna make more money than 99% of the UFC roster.
I said what I said it’s comical how upset people are but Hey they asked for a price to see me nakes and thats it my body my choice whether anyone likes it or not https://t.co/5eG9zuro2i
— Jessica Eye (@jessicaevileye) May 4, 2021
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