Las Vegas, NV — Jessica-Rose Clark’s bloody scrap (the blood not her own, mind you) with Sarah Alpar at UFC Vegas 11 will mostly be remembered for its finish. Or, more accurately, a non-finish.
Which is a shame. While the fight was marred by a strange instance which saw the referee halt the fight after an apparent illegal knee, only to restart it after deeming the blow legal, the entire bout from start to finish saw a much-improved Clark (10-6, 1NC) go to work Saturday.
“I’m really happy with that fight,” said Clark, who added that she’d come into the bout looking to enjoy fighting again. And wanting to prove that she has a “good well-rounded game.”
Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press at the UFC Vegas 11 post-fight press conference, “Jessy Jess” added that “if I wasn’t going to enjoy it tonight, then I probably wasn’t going to continue for much longer. Because that doesn’t make sense, I’m not going to do anything that I hate doing.”
“So my emotions are high. I’m just grateful about that. I don’t even care about the win,” she continued. “Like, that was beautiful, but I don’t even care about the win. I’m just happy that I f*cking enjoyed myself.”
About that finish, though. In the third round, recent Contender Series winner Alpar began to wither under sustained pressure from Clark. Back against the fence, she began to slump down, eventually resting on her haunches as Clark delivered a smashing knee to the fence.
The ref halted the fight. Initially it looked like it might be an illegal knee on a downed opponent. But Alpar wasn’t down. Her feet were on the canvas, her hands were not. Her backside was just barely off the ground. Because she was squatting, not sitting, it was a legal blow. Something the ref soon determined as well.
“I thought the fight was over,” Clark admitted, “then when he told me to get away from my corner, I was like ‘okay we’re still going.'” Luckily, she added, “my emotions weren’t so high that I had to bring myself back in.”
The Australian also knew, however, that while Alpar indicated she was ready to continue, she really wasn’t. “I could see that she wasn’t ready to come back in.”
In the fight game, toughness is a badge of honor, and Alpar carried on regardless. “I could see it on her face. I could see it. I apologized to her team after the fight. It shouldn’t have kept going,” said Clark, echoing the feeling of most of those watching.
Alpar’s nose was smashed, her face bloodied. If the blow was illegal, the fight would likely have been over. Even legal, it should have been over. And the use of instant replay almost certainly meant it was over, given that under the rule set announced during the broadcast, use of instant reply results in the fight being ended. Except in Nevada, that’s not actually the case. “The referee may, at any time during a contest or exhibition, call a time-out to consult with officials of the Commission or to view replay footage,” is what is actually written under NAC 467.682 (h/t Benjamin Abrigo).
With that in mind, the ref was within his rights to review the incident and restart the fight, as he stated he had not actually waved it off. Whether it needed to continue is another matter.
“There was one point where I was trying to submit her, because I was like ‘f*ck I don’t want to keep hurting her,'” revealed Clark. “So I was going for the head and arm choke, but she wasn’t giving it up. She didn’t give up an inch, not for one second. But I wanted to submit her, because I didn’t want to keep hurting her as bad as I was.”
Alpar was probably too tough for her own good. “She didn’t allow that to happen, so f*ck it, I’m going to keep throwing elbows,” Clark added.
Ultimately the fight was stopped, a fair bit later than it really should have been. However, Clark is in favor of instant replay in general.
“I’m a fan of it,” she said. “I feel like that’s probably going to a stop a lot of fights being stopped when they shouldn’t be stopped, and it’s probably going to stop people from being killed from too much happening, if that makes sense.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 11 post-fight press conference with Jessica-Rose Clark above.