Merab Dvalishvili upset with stoppage of Aljamain Sterling’s UFC 292 loss: ‘Now I have Marc Goddard phobia’

Merab Dvalishvili is not at all happy with referee Marc Goddard.

The UFC bantamweight contender has a history with the veteran official, and it just got worse after seeing his friend and teammate Aljamain Sterling lose his 135-pound title to Sean O’Malley this past Saturday in the main event of UFC 292 in Boston.

Dvalishvili (16-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) claims Goddard did a poor job in officiating the fight by stopping the bout prematurely in the second round. Dvalishvili thought Sterling, who won the first round on the judges’ scorecards, was doing well and deserved a better chance in the fight.

“Aljo was doing what he was supposed to do,” Dvalishvili told MMA Junkie. “He was there. He was playing smart. He was fighting a smart fight. Of course, the plan was to take Sean down, but Sean was doing good footwork and everything.

“In the second round, people start booing Aljo and people affect Aljo, and Aljo made the decision to close the distance and strike. That’s when Sean got him, but Aljo was still in. He was fighting. He was trying to grab the leg, and he turned on the side, and that’s when Marc Goddard stopped him. It was my opinion, as a fighter, I say it was an early stoppage.”

Sterling was dropped by a right hand early in the second round. Once on the ground, O’Malley landed ground-and-pound for about 15 seconds before Goddard intervened. It’s true that Sterling wasn’t fully knocked out, but he was taking several shots while trying to get to a better position.

Dvalishvili thinks Goddard should’ve let the champion go out on his shield.

“Me for example, when I’m fighting, I rather die,” Dvalishvili said. “I rather go out. I rather sleep. I don’t want you to save me, I’m a fighter. That’s why I’m preparing. I rather get knocked out because we need months, sometimes one year, to fight. It’s not like we’re fighting every day.

“You see now what happened to the champion. If you gave them a chance, it wasn’t a cold knockout, you know. That was it, but Aljo handled it very well like a champion. Me, right away, I was screaming, ‘Early stoppage. Early stoppage.'”

Dvalishvili and Goddard have history. In 2018, when Dvalishvili fought Ricky Simon in his second UFC fight, Dvalishvili lost the fight by technical submission despite seeing out the entire 15 minutes of the fight. It was after the fight, that it was ruled Simon had choked out Dvalishvili, not allowing the fight to go to the scorecards.

To this day, Dvalishvili claims he was in all his senses and that Goddard fumbled the call.

“Marc Goddard was the side referee, and the main referee who was inside the cage let me fight,” Dvalishvili recalled. “He don’t stop the fight because he knew, and he saw my eyes, I was still fighting. Of course, I was in a tough spot, but every time he checked my hand, I give thumbs up. I was good. I was showing.

“Once Ricky Simon got me, of course the choke was tight. It was hard to run from there, but I knew I had one minute. I wasn’t going to tap in that fight, and I was going to fight it because I was winning the fight. The main referee gave me time, and he let me fight. He didn’t stop me because if he did, I would’ve protest, ‘I’m not sleeping, why did you stop it.’

“When the bell rung and the fight was over, I wake up and said I’m good. Yeah, so it was going to go to score. … but Marc Goddard said I was sleeping with the choke, but if I was sleeping or choked out, why didn’t you stop me? You let me fight and now let’s go to the score. This is a technical TKO or submission after the bell rang, and the fight was over. I moved on, but now I have Marc Goddard phobia. Every time I see the man, I’m just panicking.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie