Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum made news when he signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) in 2020. Werdum made his PFL debut against fellow Brazilian Renan Ferreira on May 6, 2021, at PFL 3.
Ferreira was awarded the win via TKO, but the decision seems to be marred by controversy. Fabricio Werdum had Ferreira in a triangle choke, and it seemed like Ferreira tapped. While he tapped twice as opposed to the usual three times we see in a fight, it definitely appeared to be a tap nonetheless.
This form of tapping is often called "the Brazilian tap" and is popular in the jiu-jitsu gyms and fight leagues of Brazil. Fabricio Werdum stated that when he felt the tap, he eased up on his opponent, following the code of conduct involved in professional combat. However, it would appear that referee Keith Peterson didn't see the tap at all.
After what appeared to be a tap, Renan Ferreira began dropping punches on Fabricio Werdum, which the referee saw very clearly. He eventually stepped in to stop the fight and award Ferreira a TKO victory.
Have a look at the sequence in the video below:
Needless to say, it definitely appears that Ferreira may have tapped before he continued fighting and got the finish. The MMA community has been outraged over the events of the heavyweight bout.
UFC fighters took to Twitter to express their disappointment and shock over Fabricio Werdum's loss:
Following the fight, Fabricio Werdum expressed his dismay in the post-fight interview. Watching the replay, he pointed clearly to the moment when Ferreira tapped to the triangle choke. Werdum stressed how, as a professional, his duty was to ease up on the choke after his opponent tapped with an open palm. But to his misfortune, referee Keith Peterson didn't see the tap, and Ferreira continued to rain punches down Fabricio Werdum's head.
Peterson eventually awarded Ferreira the win via TKO.
It's an unfortunate series of events, to say the least. Per his manager Ali Abdelaziz, Fabricio Werdum has filed an appeal with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Considering the fight took place at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA, this would be the correct way forward.
The board will receive footage of the fight from the PFL and decide whether to review Werdum's claim and overturn the result of the fight.