For the second consecutive week, a UFC fight ended because of an illegal knee.

One week after the UFC 259 bantamweight title fight between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan ended in a disqualification, Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 187 main card opener between Eryk Anders and Darren Stewart was declared a no contest midway through Round 1. Both fights were stopped by the referee due to a knee to the head of a downed opponent.

The sequence that led up to the stoppage Saturday consisted of a heavy onslaught attack by Anders, who had Stewart hurt on the ground. Stewart worked his way back to his feet only to be tossed down again. As Anders stepped over his opponent and looked for openings, Stewart got up to one knee against the cage with his hand still on the canvas. That’s when Anders hit him with a knee to the side of the head, which was partially blocked by Stewart.

After an illegal knee, the Anders-Stewart bout has been stopped.

— UFC (@ufc) March 14, 2021

So why was the fight declared a no content and not a disqualification? According to UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner, the difference between Sterling-Yan and Stewart-Anders was simply the referee’s ruling of the knee itself.

During the UFC 259 title fight between Sterling and Yan, referee Mark Smith deemed the fight-ending blow intentional causing it to be ruled a  disqualification. On Saturday, referee Herb Dean declared Anders’ knee unintentional.

“It’s a referee judgment. That’s the bottom line,” Ratner said backstage at the UFC Apex. “It’s up to him, and if he reads intent into it, and there’s this foul that stops the fight, then he can call it intentional. It’s the referee’s decision.”

If the fight had already hit the third round, the bout would’ve gone to the judges’ scorecards. However, the fight-ending blow took place midway through Round 1, so a no contest was the right call, according to Ratner.

Check out Ratner’s explanation below (via Twitter):

Marc Ratner clarified the difference between this weeks knee in Anders vs. Stewart and last weeks Yan vs. Sterling

— Oscar Willis (@oscarswillis) March 14, 2021

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