MMA brouhaha after ugly loss

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

CALGARY - A mixed martial arts referee is being investigated after a competitor was unconscious for several seconds during a card Friday night at the Telus Convention Centre.

Kim Couture, the ex-wife of MMA legend Randy Couture, was placed in a leg scissor choke by Sheila Bird and appeared to be unconscious for 10 seconds before referee Len Koivisto called the match.

“The Calgary Combative Sports Commission has the matter under review and will have no further statements until that has concluded. We are acting as expediently as possible on the matter,” was a statement released Monday by commission chairman Shirley Stunzi.

Bird, who hails from Calgary and has a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, was able to lock her legs around Couture’s neck. Couture went limp, but it took around several seconds for the fight to be stopped.

Steve Fader, promoter of the AX Combat card, said he has submitted footage to the commission but warned about reacting too harshly.

“People makes mistakes, and I hope they don’t crucify this ref. At the same time, some steps have to be taken to better educate these guys,” Fader said.

Fader said the referee was on the wrong side of the combatants when they hit the ground.

“I know I’ve got to be politically correct, but, as far as I’m concerned, from a fan’s standpoint and from a fighter’s standpoint, the ref made a mistake. I don’t know if he didn’t understand what was going on or assumed the choke was weak enough she could get out of it,” Fader said. “He should have been on the other side where they were laying so he could see Kim’s eyes. I could see (she was unconscious).

“I saw her first leg go limp, and then there was a good 10 seconds from when that happened to when he makes contact with her hand. Officials are supposed to be trained to see those signs.”

The fight has become an internet sensation.

“Absolutely, the referee blew it,” said Damon Martin, writer for mmaweekly.com from New York. “A choke out is not as dangerous as a knockout — let’s put it that way.

A knockout leaves you with a concussion, and you don’t want somebody to take extra punches. But when you’re talking about a choke, a person is defenceless.”

Couture sent out messages on her twitter page: “I never tapped like they said but went to sleep and had sweet dreams of sipping on a Pina Colada on the beach, then they woke me up! LMAO”

Both Martin and Fader said they’ve spoken to Couture, who lives in Las Vegas on several occasions since the fight, and she said she’s OK.

“Kim is fine. She understands it’s a full contact sport. You go in there knowing full well you can get choked unconscious, especially if you choose not to tap out,” Fader said.

Couture is also in hot water with the New Jersey commission because she’s still under medical suspension following an October loss. Couture hadn’t submitted proof her facial injuries healed in time to be reviewed by New Jersey officials before the fight. Calgary officials cleared her after seeing medical reports.

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