Early in the first round in their light heavyweight showdown, Walker ate a huge knee strike from Ankalaev that was deemed illegal with the Brazilian down on the canvas. The action was paused to allow Walker time to recover but just moments later the fight was waved off by the referee.
The controversy came from the doctor examining Walker immediately after he stood up from the illegal strike. The doctor asked him questions such as identifying the country where he’s fighting at. When Walker couldn’t answer effectively enough, the doctor told the referee, and the fight was stopped with the bout declared a no-contest due to an unintentional foul committed by Ankalaev.
“The guy’s inexperienced,” UFC CEO Dana White said about the doctor at the UFC 294 post-fight press conference. “I think there’s a lot of things that probably happened. I guess he asked him ‘where are you right now?’ and his response was ‘I’m in the desert.’ He’s not wrong.”
White also believes that the doctor’s question and Walker’s subsequent answer may have been lost in transition because while the Brazilian speaks English, it’s not his first language. According to White, the whole situation was less than ideal.
“I think there’s a big language barrier in there between the two of them,” White explained. “Inexperience [from the doctor]. It sucks. It’s one of those things that happen sometimes but we’ll make it right and we’ll fix it.”
After the fight was stopped, Walker marched across the octagon to restart the action, which led to Ankalaev coming toward him, and security rushed to keep them separated. Eventually, White actually had to set foot in the octagon to tell everybody involved to calm down.
“That didn’t look like it was going in the right direction,” White said about the potential melee that could have unfolded. “That’s all we needed.”
White didn’t note if the UFC planned to rebook Ankalaev against Walker in the near future, though the UFC has handled past situations like this in similar fashion by running it back again.
For the second straight fight, Ankalaev leaves without a win on his resume following a draw in his fight with Jan Blachowicz that cost him the UFC light heavyweight title, and now a no-contest in his matchup against Walker.