PFL 2: Efrain Escudero Addresses Controversial Stoppage Against Jason High

Jason High vs. Efrain Escudero, PFL 2
Jason High vs. Efrain Escudero Credit: Professional Fighters League

PFL 2 on Thursday night in Chicago had a lot of bizarre finishes, but none was more controversial than Efrain Escudero’s “submission” of Jason High.

Bad calls in MMA are nothing new. More often than not, the ire of fans, fighters, coaches and promotions is directed at judges, or refs in cases of late (or quick) stoppages. Yet rarely do you find a ref stopping a fight when it appears there’s been no finish. That, however, is what happened at PFL 2 in Escudero vs. High.

Looking to free himself from a guillotine, High appeared to reach for his opponent’s arm, only for the ref to immediately move in to wave off the fight. It was bizarre, to say the least, though no fault of Escudero, who released the submission as the ref intervened, as he should.

High, needless to say, was irate, screaming that he had not tapped. He appeared to touch the ref following the fight, and was seen knocking over chairs while heading back to the dressing room post-fight. That brought up memories of High’s exit from the UFC, which saw him banished from the promotion after shoving a referee. That came following a TKO loss to Rafael dos Anjos in 2014.

Escudero addressed the fight, and the stoppage, backstage at the Chicago Threatre following the bout on Thursday night. On missing weight, Escudero admitted that when he got the call to step in against High, he was in Mexico, chowing down on some tacos. “Within ten seconds, I regretted the taco that I just ate,” he said. “I got to my gym, I checked my weight, and I was 183. But I had already said yes, and I didn’t care.”

On the stoppage, he said simply that “I’m so glad I came out with the W. It might be a controversial fight, but at the end of the day, I’ve done this for such a long period of time, it was only a matter of time before he tapped.”

“That thing was pretty sunk in,” he continued, saying that “it was only getting tighter and tighter, and he was going to tap. The next thing he was going to do, he was going to roll to his back, I was going to roll right over on top of him, and it was going to be tighter.”

He did feel a tap, he stated. “It actually did” feel like a tap. “Not the first one,” he continued. But rather, “there’s a moment where he kind of like curled in, that’s when I actually felt the actual tap.” Having fought in promotions all over the world, “they usually tell you, don’t let go until the ref pulls you off.” Then when Escudero “saw the ref already coming,” he realized it was a done deal. “That’s when I was like ‘alright, cool’ and that’s when I knew it was over.”

“Everybody was kind of basing it off the first [motion],” Escudero said of the reaction to the finish. Video replay shows a initial move towards Escudero’s arm by High, then later, High’s hand disappears under the Mexican fighter. “To each their own,” he said of the controversy. “I’m just glad I came out with that W.”

Having missed weight, Efrain Escudero will not be eligible for any points in the PFL tournament from the win. He will, however, be able to pick up points next time out.

As for High, the Illinois State Athletic Commission reviewed the finish, and sided with the ref, closing his avenue of appeal.