Melissa Gatto explains how tape study played into boob punch TKO at UFC Fight Night 241

LAS VEGAS – Sometimes it pays off to watch tape on your opponents.

When Melissa Gatto struck Tamires Vidal in the left breast, the reaction may have seemed delayed and unusual to the outside observer. But Gatto (9-2-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) was well studied. She’d seen Vidal (7-3 MMA 1-2 UFC) do the exact same thing before, pounced for the finish, and won by TKO.

“No, of course (I wasn’t surprised) because I watched the last fights of her,” Gatto told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a post-fight news conference. “Always she felt that. She always tried to stop the fight but the (referee) said to me, ‘Don’t stop. You go.’ I go and I finish. I got my victory.”

In fact, Vidal had done the same thing in the UFC the fight prior against Montserrat Rendon. Unlike Saturday’s fight at the UFC Apex, the referee in that fight, Kerry Hatley, intervened when the blow occurred.

However, Chris Tognoni’s decision to let the action continue during Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 241 was the right call, according to pioneering regulator and former referee “Big” John McCarthy.

“I love Kerry Hatley, but the fact that Vidal calls for and receives a timeout for a punch to the chest is incorrect,” McCarthy wrote on X. “Chris Tognoni handled the call perfectly when Vidal once again turned away asking for a timeout. It was a legal blow, you’re hurt and now can’t fight…… you lose by TKO.”

With the win, Gatto snapped a two-fight skid. Back moving in the right direction, Gatto plans to return to flyweight. The fight Saturday was a bantamweight bout, and one Gatto took on short notice.

“I want to fight in August in the flyweight division,” Gatto said. “But if the UFC wants me in the bantamweight division, I’m here. I’m here to fight. I was born to fight.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 241.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie