Bruno Silva Criticizes Ref Gary Copeland for Eye Poke Controversy at UFC Atlantic City

UFC
April 2, 2024
Bruno Silva wasn’t pleased with referee Gary Copeland’s approach during his controversial loss to Chris Weidman at UFC on ESPN 54.

"Before the fight, the referee comes to the dressing room and advises all fighters that open hands are not allowed and can be considered a foul,” Silva told Sherdog.com. “Weidman was unfair during the whole fight.”

“Blindado” pointed out that Copeland wasn’t as lenient earlier in the evening, when he took a point from Herbert Burns for a knee to the groin in the opening round of his bout against Julio Arce.

"He took one point from him after the second [knee],” Silva said. “I got eye poked four times, and he did absolutely nothing.”

Silva said that his team didn’t initially understand why he fell to the ground during the final sequence against Weidman until they viewed the replay. While the bout was initially a stoppage win for Weidman, it was later changed to a technical decision victory for the ex-middleweight champion.

"Even my team could not understand, then I asked them to look up the replay and they immediately understood my attitude,” Silva said. “Weidman not only poked my eye, he moved his finger to the opposite side, tearing it. Then he used the other hand to poke my other eye. You can see in the replay that his punch hit my shoulder. So when I fell to the ground, it was to protect myself. The referee was able to see the same in the replay, but he made the wrong decision.”

When addressing the situation, Weidman blamed Silva for falling to the canvas after the foul occurred.

“It's easy to say that when it's not your eye that is seriously hurt,” Silva said. “Unfortunately, we don’t train to get our eyes poked. I just can say that was a pain I never felt before. I truly respect Weidman as a fighter and human being, but I got really disappointed by what he said in the press conference after our fight.”

After the controversy, Silva has asked his manager to appeal the New Jersey commission to overturn the fight to a no contest.

"That would be the most fair,” Silva said. “And, since our fight is not over, I hope Weidman accepts to fight me again. I wouldn't invite him to fight in Brazil because the commission wouldn't clear me to face him in May, but I know that soon UFC will return to New York, so let's make that rematch again in his house.”

However, Silva is also aware that he could be released from the UFC after his third consecutive loss.

"I have three more fights on my contract, but I'm totally aware of that possibility,” he said. “But I never rejected a fight. Whenever UFC called me, I said yes, no matter the oponent and the time I would need to get ready. The UFC knows I'm a truly hard worker who always puts my profession ahead of my own family. All my fights were wars. I just don’t think I deserve to finish my story with UFC in that unfair way.”

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Bruno-Silva-Criticizes-Ref-Gary-Copeland-for-Eye-Poke-Controversy-at-UFC-Atlantic-City-193162

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