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Friday, May 1, 2009
MMA Submission: Benji Radach's Appeal


Should this fight have ended the way it did?

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A fighter gets knocked out. He disagrees with the stoppage, which he views as one of several poor referee decisions throughout the fight. He appeals the decision to the athletic commission.

Heard this one before? Of course. And here it is again: Benji Radach is in the midst of filing an appeal of his knockout loss to Scott Smith April 11 on Strikeforce.

With something like this, there are always two camps. The perceived "wronged" fighter makes his case and his fans rally behind him. The other side says it's sour grapes: move on, the fight happened, get over it.

Radach's appeal is not quite official yet; he says he and his managers are putting together the official paperwork and plan to file it soon. In the submitted documents, Radach will point to several mistakes he feels referee Herb Dean made.

He had a second-round guillotine he cinched up tight on Smith, and says he felt Hands of Steel grab the cage to help him ease out of Radach's grip. Radach says he even heard Dean say something to Smith about grabbing the fence. "If Scott hadn't gotten ahold of the cage—which is blatantly against the rules—I think I would have finished him there," Radach says.

Radach also thinks the stoppage was unfair, for two reasons.

First, he says he was okay and was scrambling to get back to his feet. "I was not out," Radach says. (That's arguable—Smith did land a big right hand that planed Radach on the canvas.)

Secondly, Radach says Smith ended the fight with an illegal blow to the back of the head. That claim seems to have some merit, based on the video.

After the fight, Radach watched the videotape and agreed with his management team: the shot was illegal. Radach feels it should have been called that, and he should have had time to recuperate from the blow. Dean could have possibly taken a point away, though that's almost irrelevant. Radach led on the judges' scorecards. If he had had time to recuperate and been able to make it out of the round, Radach was a good bet to have won a decision.

In his lockerroom afterward, Smith stopped by and congratulated him on a good fight. The seed had already been planted in Radach's head to appeal the loss, hoping for a no contest ruling from the athletic commission. But with Smith and his two kids there, Radach offered his hand to Smith, returned the compliment on a great battle and said hello to Smith's sons.

"That wasn't the time or place to tell him I might appeal the decision," Radach says.

The next week, though, was a time for contemplation. Radach had shattered his right hand in the first round of the fight. He told cornerman Bas Rutten that between rounds, and the two hushed up as Dean walked over to make sure Radach was ready for the second round. He has since needed a plate and seven screws to repair one of MMA's most lethal right hands, and is probably out until the fall.

In the interim, he expects to spend the next few months making a case he wishes he didn't have to make.

"I'm not a sore loser, and I think Scott Smith is a great guy," Radach says. "I wish it didn't come to this. But I'm just doing what I think is right."