Ferreira spoils Werdum's PFL debut with controversial TKO

Josh Hedges / UFC / Getty

Fabricio Werdum suffered a shocking loss in his PFL debut on Thursday night.

But in the eyes of many, the former UFC heavyweight champion should've been awarded a victory.

Renan Ferreira officially defeated Werdum via TKO at the 2:23 mark of the first round in the PFL 3 main event at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

However, Ferreira appeared to tap out earlier in the round when Werdum put him in a triangle choke. Referee Keith Peterson missed it because he was situated on the other side of the fighters.

Moments later, Ferreira freed himself of the choke before pummeling Werdum with punches on the ground until Peterson intervened.

While watching the replay, the PFL commentators said it looked like Ferreira tapped out. Werdum said he stopped fighting after feeling the tap and was adamant he should've won the contest.

"Everybody saw the fight. He tapped," Werdum said during his postfight interview. "I have to respect my opponent. I have to stop. ... When he tapped, (I thought the referee) would stop the fight, but (Ferreira) kept going with punches to my head.

"In my mind, it was over, because he tapped," Werdum added.

Werdum already filed an appeal of Thursday's result with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board (NJSACB), his manager Ali Abdelaziz told ESPN's Marc Raimondi. The PFL will send the athletic commission the footage that appears to show Ferreira tapping out.

"PFL does not utilize instant replay which is available in New Jersey, so we will review the declared outcome and explain our findings," NJSACB counsel Nick Lembo told Raimondi.

The fight started fast, with both Werdum and Ferreira looking for an early knockout blow. Werdum took Ferreira down within 10 seconds and spent a good amount of time in top control. Ferreira reversed the position and tried to hurt his opponent with ground-and-pound, but Werdum attacked with a triangle choke before Ferreira escaped and pounded him out for the TKO.

Werdum made his PFL debut after leaving the UFC in 2020 following an eight-year tenure with the promotion, plus a separate three-fight stint in 2008. The Brazilian held the UFC belt from 2015-16 and is considered one of the greatest heavyweights ever.

The 43-year-old exited the UFC after a submission win over former light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson last July. Werdum is now 1-3 in his past four outings.

Ferreira, who was also competing in the PFL for the first time Thursday, earned six points under the promotion's season format while moving into second place in the heavyweight standings. The 31-year-old extended his winning streak to two and improved his professional record to 7-2.

Ferreira spoils Werdum's PFL debut with controversial TKO
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