What happened to Lyman Good on Saturday night can only be called a travesty. Good fought for the CFFC Welterweight Title against highly regarded prospect and defending champion Jonavin Webb. Good entered the cage for his 20th professional Mixed Martial Arts fight, and he fought perfectly.
His opponent, the champion, found the perfect opportunity to escape the cage and the fight without putting the first loss on his resume. Instead Webb was the beneficiary of a rule that never was intended to be used the way it was on Saturday.
A no contest is meant to score a fight that ends as a direct result of an unintentional illegal technique. Most frequently in MMA it would happen from a clash of heads that results in a deep cut or in an eye poke that makes it impossible for one fighter to see.
Only the eye poke that led to the stoppage of Saturday nights fight never really happened. At least that’s what Jonavin Webb told his opponent in the cage after the fight.
Let’s start from the beginning. Webb has earned seven straight victories to start his pro career by taking opponents to the ground using a slick grappling game to secure submissions and generally overwhelming his opposition. His game plan against Good was simple, take him down and control him on the ground.
Only problem was he couldn’t do it. Webb shot his first takedown within seconds of the opening bell. He actually got Good to the mat, but the Tiger Schulmann’s Manhattan Sensei simply pushed off Webb’s head to create space and stood right back up.
It was one of only two times in the 12 minute fight Webb got Good to the mat, neither time could he keep him there. The frustration was clear as Webb’s shots started coming from further and further away and demonstrated less explosion and technique. In fact some of the most punishing shots of the fight were Webb’s face slamming the mat as Good stuffed yet another takedown attempt.
The biggest shot of the fight, that would be Good’s right shin bone, which connected with Webb’s face midway through the second round. The force of the kick was so powerful it lifted Webb off his feet before depositing him on his backside. It was from their Webb would endure more than a minute of constant ground and pound as Good switched from straight punches to hammerfists to elbows as he eventually mounted the fighter who was supposed to have an advantage on the ground.
Referee Keith Petersen was clearly monitoring events closely as he darted from one vantage point to the next on the verge of stepping in. Webb demonstrated enough heart to continue to defend himself and made his way out of the round but the damage had been done. Webb would spend the minute break under the care of the cutman as his face was a mess.
He gamely answered the bell for the third round, but that was when things turned ugly. The Daniel Gracie, Philadelphia student shot a takedown from which Good again stood right back up. Good continued to land punishing shots including another round kick that stunned Webb.
The two got in the clinch before Good pushed off Webb’s face to create space. After a couple seconds Webb turned away from Good and motioned to the referee. It was not the reaction of someone who has received a direct poke to the eye. That reaction is almost always instantaneous.
According to referee Keith Petersen Webb claimed he was poked in the eye and Petersen awarded him the mandatory five minute recovery time. Webb wouldn’t even use a minute of it as he called for the Doctor and immediately told the Doctor he could not see. That led the Doctor to call the fight. The TSMMA crowd went wild as Good clearly had an insurmountable lead on the scorecards, one the Gracie fighter could only have overcoming by stopping “Cyborg”. That clearly was not going to happen on this night.
Under the rules of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission if a fight is stopped because of an eye poke before the end of the third round (for a five round championship fight) then it is ruled a no contest. Lead Counsel Nick Lembo asked the ringside Doctor if the stoppage was a result of a poke or a punch and the Doctor said their was an abrasion on Webb’s eye and he thought it was a poke. Lembo had no choice but to rule the fight a no contest.
It was an ugly scene as Webb then accepted his championship belt in the middle of the ring. Sickening to Lyman Good who relayed a post fight conversation with Webb to his coaches in which he says Webb clearly told him he didn’t get poked. That would seem to be supported by video replay which at best showed Good may have brushed a finger across Webb’s eye as he pushed away, but very likely did not touch his eye at all.
In thirteen years of seeing MMA fights it is the first time I have ever seen a fight stopped due to an eye poke by a Doctor where the fighter wasn’t arguing with the Doctor to let the fight continue. All in all it did not seem like the actions of a champion. In fact Webb had every opportunity to take his full five minutes to recover his vision. It is very typical for a fighter to take a couple of minutes for their vision to clear up from a poke. Instead the fight was called off less than a minute after the alleged poke happened.
Good said after the fight it felt worse than losing, something he has only experienced a couple of times in his illustrious career. In the eyes of this viewer he was the clear victor in the fight, whether the record books reflect it or not. Good fought the absolute perfect fight. He controlled the distance perfectly, picked his spots to attack with vicious punches and utilized one kick perfectly!
While Webb was happy to accept his title belt back after the no decision, he was not surprisingly noncommittal when asked about a rematch. I have a feeling that rematch won’t be happening any time soon as in all likelihood Webb’s eye socket is fractured and he will need some healing time before getting in the cage again.
Look for Good to be back in the cage again soon as he put on an amazing show which the fans at The Borgata will look forward to seeing again!
Congratulations to Sensei Good on what might be the best performance of his career, even if it may never be marked in the win column.