Rodriguez (11-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) got the short end of the stick on a blunder from referee Chris Tognoni in the light heavyweight bout this past Saturday. He landed a knee to the midsection of Herman (26-14 MMA, 13-10 UFC) in the second round, and the referee misidentified it as a low blow.
Herman was presented with the standard five-minute recovery window for a groin-strike foul, but the replay showed it landed clean. The fight was allowed to resume after the controversial moment, and Herman rallied in the third to secure a fight-ending kimura and conclude the stunning turn of events.
There was no shortage of outrage afterward, with fighters on social media, the UFC broadcast team and, most emphatically of all, UFC president Dana White going after Tognoni and Herman for their parts in the situation. A few days later, though, Rodriguez said he’s reflected on what happened and won’t assign blame.
“It’s a lot to take in,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve got no ill will towards (Tognoni). It was a simple mistake, and Ed just capitalized on the mistake. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a (expletive) situation. The only thing I really, like, blame Ed for, if anything, is when he got the submission, how he put his feet in the fence. Other than that, it is what it is. There’s nothing we can really do about it.”
Although it’s over in his mind, there are still moving parts stemming from the outcome at UFC on ESPN+ 35. Rodriguez’s manager, Tyson Chartier, said immediately after the fight that an appeal would be filed to have Herman’s win overturned, likely to a no contest.
Dana White unloaded on the “Mazzagatti-level shit” from ref Chris Tognoni in the Ed Herman vs. Mike Rodriguez fight: “Disgusting.”
— MMA Junkie (@MMAjunkie) September 13, 2020
Rodriguez said he’s going to allow his team to do their jobs in lobbying to make that happen, but he doesn’t necessarily have expectations.
“I’m assuming if anything it would be changed to a (no contest), which is better than a loss,” Rodriguez said. “I have no clue what’s going to happen with that.”
One thing that does allow Rodriguez to be positive after a disappointing situation was how the controversy was received by the UFC brass. White said he was going to pay Rodriguez his win bonus, and that he is viewing it as a win for him.
“That’s exactly what Dana said: ‘You won that (expletive) round. … You finished Ed Herman the second round,’” Rodriguez recalled. “I was sitting in the back, I was a little bummed out, I got caught. The doctors were looking at my shoulder and all of a sudden I looked up and Dana White was right there. He was not happy. I thought I did something wrong. I was instantly like, ‘Oh (expletive), what did I do?’ He was like, ‘That’s bull(expletive), that’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. You definitely won.’”
As far as his next move, Rodriguez said he’s not overly eager to run it back with Herman. If the UFC views it as a win for him, he said he’s happy to proceed the same way and take his next step forward.
“If they’re looking at it as a win for me, I’ll just move on,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t work for the commission, I work for the UFC. So, let’s keep running it. They think it’s a win? Let’s keep going. Who else is next? Who else is out there?”