A welterweight title bout between Silmar “Sombra” Nunes and Caio “Paturi” Silva ended in chaos in Capanema, Brazil.
Nunes choked out Silva in the main event of Capanema Fight Combat on Sept. 23, but the referee didn’t stop the fight when Silva went unconscious. While still holding the submission, Nunes warned the referee multiple times that his opponent was out, but referee Jorge Gomes insisted Silva was fine. That’s when Silva’s cornerman jumped into the cage and started to punch Nunes in the face in an attempt to stop the fight.
The chaotic video quickly went viral, and MMA Fighting spoke with everyone involved in the wild scene.
“I caught him with a guillotine and he didn’t tap,” Nunes said. “I squeezed it and told the referee that he went out, but the referee said ‘no.’ I told him twice, but he checked his foot and hand and said ‘no’ even though I knew he was sleeping.
“Everybody saw what was going on. When I decided to let the submission go and turn to check on him, his brother jumped into the cage and started to punch me. He threw six or seven punches, but I blocked most of them, and then more people came in to stop him, so I immediately checked on ‘Paturi.’”
Nunes was attacked by Silva’s brother – light heavyweight fighter Dax Vinicius Silva.
“It took 24 seconds between the moment my brother went out and the moment I came in,” Dax Vinicius Silva said. “If I haven’t jumped in, what would have happened? ‘Sombra’ tells the referee that he was out and he says ‘no.’ He checks on my brother and continues to say he was not out. I’m screaming at the referee, saying that he’s out, and he won’t stop it. You can see that ‘Sombra’ is letting it go a bit, but not completely — he’s a fighter and the referee is the one who has to stop the fight. That’s when I came in and had that reaction.
“I was wrong for attacking ‘Sombra,’ but even with that he was still worried about my brother,” Dax Vinicius Silva continued. “I was wrong, and I apologized to ‘Sombra,’ but I don’t think it was a mistake to enter the cage. When would the referee stop the fight? My brother could have had brain damage or even died. I admit that I made a mistake, but it’s not fair to criticize me. If I didn’t do that, people would be reaching out to me today saying, ‘I’m sorry for your brother’s death.”
Three doctors entered the cage to help Caio Silva after the situation was under control. Caio Silva went to the hospital for MRI and CT scans, and is currently waiting for the results.
“My brother had headaches and was dizzy all day,” Dax Vinicius Silva said.
Both camps are unhappy with the referee, and he was not the first choice to work in that main event. Women’s MMA pioneer Carmen “Casca Grossa” Franca was originally set as the referee, but Nunes complained that she was Silva’s former coach so she could be biased.
“I said that there was only one good referee in the region, (Robson Luis) ‘Leao,’ so asked them to call him,” Nunes said. “The promoter said he couldn’t do that because it was a charity event and he wasn’t even the one who paid our purses. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll pay the referee with my purse,’ but ‘Paturi’ complained that I was paying the referee, so they ended up calling [Gomes].”
Another big issue is that Gomes, a professional MMA fighter who already lost to both “Sombra” and “Paturi” in the past, was in attendance as a fan, and was asked by the promoter if he could step up and work in the main event moments before the bout.
“I was there to watch the event,” Gomes said. “I’m not a referee, I’m a fighter. I’ve worked in a few fights before, but nothing big, only small shows. They had an issue with referees and the promoter got nervous, so he came to me, as I was in attendance with my wife, and asked me if I wanted to help him out.
“I told him I was not a referee, that I’m a fighter, but since the situation was escalating and everyone was getting euphoric, I agreed to go there. But I jumped on this grenade and I’m the one being criticized.”
In the end, Gomes doesn’t believe Silva was out as long as people think.
“I moved his foot and it wasn’t loose, so I came back and checked his hand again,” Gomes said. “When I decided to stop the fight, his brother came in. You can notice on the video that right before his brother comes in, [Silva] moves his hand close to [Nunes’] ribs, so he wasn’t sleeping yet.
“Many people say I did that on purpose because I don’t like [Silva], but I don’t have anything against him,” Gomes added. “I’ve fought him and I’ve fought ‘Sombra,’ and even sparred with ‘Paturi’ for this fight, so I don’t have anything against him.”
Dax Vinicius Silva says he was told by people in the arena, even before the fight started, that Gomes was drinking before he agreed to enter the cage to work. Gomes denies the claims.
“Are you crazy?” Gomes said. “Stop it. That’s not true. Not true at all. They can say whatever they want now though.”
Gomes won’t say he “regrets” anything he did in the fight, because in his eyes, he would be admitting that he intentionally let Silva go out longer.
“[Silva] told me not to interfere,” Gomes said of a chat with the fighter right before the bout, “and asked me to let it go because he would figure a way to win, that he would fight as long as he could handle.”
The video that went viral only shows the back end of the bout, but Dax Vinicius Silva complains that the referee has also made several mistakes in the first round.
According to Silva’s cornerman, the first round actually lasted 5:36, and Gomes says that technical issues led to him not being informed that the round was over. Dax Vinicius Silva also says Nunes hit his brother with unintentional blows to the back of the head that the referee ignored, and wasn’t given five minutes to recover after a low blow.
“My brother was complaining about pain in the back of his head, and I told him I could stop the fight if he wanted, but he wanted to continue,” Dax Vinicius Silva said. “He asked me to keep an eye on the referee because he was getting screwed.”
In the end, after a heated debate — Silva’s team initially wanted Nunes’ win to be overturned after the referee’s mistakes — Nunes was announced the winner, but the promotion didn’t give him its championship belt right away. They were afraid it could lead to a brawl between both teams in the crowd, so Nunes only received the belt the next morning at the promoter’s house.
Nunes traveled back to Belem with the belt, and both camps have already agreed to rematch in December. Nunes claims that this was his 94th professional fight — he also fought a week before in his hometown of Belem, but neither fight is listed on his official record (34-12-1-1 on Sherdog).