LOS ANGELES -- A UFC fighter's attempt to get a technical knockout loss overturned on the grounds of gender discrimination was denied Tuesday.
The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) voted 3-2 to uphold the TKO result by referee Herb Dean in a fight between Germaine de Randamie and Aspen Ladd from the UFC Sacramento main event on July 13.
De Randamie stopped Ladd with punches in just 16 seconds.
Ladd's manager, Dave Hirschbein, argued during a hearing at the Millennium Biltmore hotel that Dean stopped the fight prematurely due to a subconscious gender bias -- because the fight was between two women. Ladd's team was asking the commission to overturn the result to a no contest.
"This is about, are women being treated equally in the sport of mixed martial arts?" Hirschbein said. "This is what we feel this is about."
Hirschbein said Ladd potentially lost millions of dollars with the loss, because she could have earned a title shot had she won. Instead, de Randamie will fight Amanda Nunes for the UFC women's bantamweight title in December.
Hirschbein said the topic of referees stopping fights earlier in women's bouts is a frequent conversation among those inside MMA. Ladd said she has been told by people that she is an inferior fighter in some ways because she is a woman.
"I've had people question my chin more so than a male teammate, for example," Ladd said. "It's common for people to believe that we function at a lesser degree than the males in the sport."
When asked by CSAC chairperson John Carvelli if he stopped the fight because Ladd is a woman, Dean said no.
"I'm not a gender discriminator," said Dean, a 17-year MMA referee who is regarded as one of the world's best in the profession.
Dean said he stopped the fight between Ladd and de Randamie because he felt like Ladd had stopped intelligently defending herself. De Randamie landed a right hand, which dropped Ladd to her hands and knees with de Randamie behind her. De Randamie then wound up for another big punch as Dean came in to stop the bout.
"At that point, I don't believe that she is aware of where her opponent is," Dean said. "At that point, I don't see her doing any of the things that I would call intelligent defense."
During the hearing, CSAC commissioner Martha Shen-Urquidez showed slides from other UFC fights officiated by Dean between male fighters that the referee allowed to continue after heavy damage was done by one of the competitors. Shen-Urquidez said she believed Dean stopping the bout between Ladd and de Randamie after just one punch violated anti-discrimination laws in California.
"That is not OK, even if it's not intentional," Shen-Urquidez said. "... She might have lost anyway, but you give her the chance to lose on her own. That's why she's a fighter."
The CSAC vote went along gender lines. Carvelli and commissioners Luis Ayala and Vernon Williams voted to uphold Dean's ruling. Shen-Urquidez and vice chairperson Mary Lehman voted against the motion to uphold the TKO loss.