Bantamweights Jessica-Rose Clark and Sarah Alpar were lined up on the UFC Vegas 11 card, with the fighters on very different trajectories at the moment. Alpar, a Contender Series winner, had three straight wins under her belt, and was looking for another against Clark, who had lost two straight in the octagon. Alpar was making her promotional debut, mind you — not an easy task given Clark’s experience.
It was Alpar opening with a couple of leg kicks, but Clark landing the heavier blow care of a right hand. Clark had the crisper striking, but Alpar changed levels, ducked under a punch and landed a takedown. Only for “Jessy Jess” to pop right back up. A little boost for Clark’s confidence, no doubt. However Alpar was immediately on her in a clinch against the fence, looking for a double-leg, then a single, frankly any way to get Clark’s back on the canvas. Again, Clark’s defense came through for her, first via a guillotine, then via a smart scramble.
On the feet, Clark began landing elbows, then a knee, while still in the clinch, showing some slick Muay Thai work. Clarke appeared to have a strength advantage, and when they went to the ground again, it was Clark on top, just overpowering Alpar.
Alpar went back to the well in round two, immediately going to a takedown, only for Clark to quickly work back up. Clark slipped in a knee to the body, only to be taken down again, then pop right back up. How much credence the judges gave these split-second takedowns remained to be seen. Clark unleashed another big elbow, and the pair moved back to center, giving Clark a little space to work. However, she somewhat bafflingly opted to initiate a clinch of her own.
Later in the frame, those nasty elbows appeared again, this time as Alpar worked for a takedown. As the frame wore on and seconds ticket away, Alpar seemed to fade. She wound up turtled by the fence, Clark landing a knee to the body and some ground n’ pound. As Alpar covered up, Clark swung away, but couldn’t get the finish before the end of the round.
Another Alpar takedown attempt started round three, which turned into an attack on Clark’s leg. Clark looked for a kimura, worked in some elbows, and was soon out of danger. She then fired a kick to the midsection, and fired a knee, catching Alpar as she was coming down. Alpar being against the fence, she was technically on her feet, both hands up, butt just off the ground. The ref stopped the fight, presumably waving it off, the doctor came in — but the ref then stated he’d never stopped the bout, and allowed it to continue. With Alpar’s blessing, as she said she could continue.
A very odd moment, as the ref appeared to realize after the fact that it was a legal blow, via instant replay, allowing the fight to continue. In Nevada, instant replay generally means a fight is over. Despite there being plenty of cause for a stoppage, it wasn’t. In any case, action resumed, Alpar then then ate a barrage of strikes. Bloodied from both the knee and the subsequent strikes, Alpar found Clark on her back. At this point, a stoppage would have been merciful, but instead, Alpar took more damage, including several more knees, before it was finally called.
— UFC (@ufc) September 19, 2020
The fight will no doubt be remembered first and foremost for the questionable officiating. However, the strong performance by Clark should not be overlooked.
“It was a legal strike. They paused the fight because they thought it was a knee to a grounded opponent. They went to the replay and confirmed that it was a legal strike. The fight was never officially stopped.
Sarah Alpar was asked if she could continue and if she wanted to continue, and she said yes.
Under NSAC rules, the bout can continue after replay since the fight was only temporarily paused and never officially stopped.”
Official Result: Jessica-Rose Clark def. Sarah Alpar by TKO, Round 3, 4:21