Chael Sonnen Backs Cageside Doctor Who Called Off Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker At UFC 294

This past weekend’s UFC 294 pay-per-view certainly had its highs and lows, the most prominent of which in the latter category came in the light heavyweight clash between Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker.

The matchup marked a crucial one in the context of the 205-pound division, with Ankalaev looking to bounce back from a failed title bid last December and Walker hoping to secure a first opportunity at the championship on the back of three straight wins.

Unfortunately, neither man departed the Octagon with their goal accomplished after the main card scrap came to an anticlimactic close just over three minutes into the very first round.

That was courtesy of an illegal knee from the Dagestani, which connected flush to the chin of his Brazilian counterpart. When the cageside doctor was brought in to conduct a concussion test, some evidently unsatisfactory answers and body language led the medical professional to quickly call the fight off.

Walker was left bemused by the decision, with his fury almost leading to an all-out brawl with Ankalaev before UFC CEO Dana White stepped in to calm the situation.

In the aftermath, the doctor has received heavy criticism for his handling of the moment, with takes ranging from confusion over the lack of a translator for Walker to the limited time he had to recover.

But one former fighter-turned-analyst sees it differently…

Sonnen Clears UFC 294 Doctor Of Wrongdoing

One person in the corner of the cageside doctor is former two-division UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen, who took to X (formerly Twitter) to offer a defense for his much-scrutinized actions.

Sonnen insisted that Walker was asked a standard question surrounding his whereabouts, and if he was unable to provide the correct answer or showed signs of confusion, the doc was correct to call the fight off.

“The American Gangster” instead labeled referee Dan Movahedi’s response to the situation as unsatisfactory. While the result was called a no contest, Sonnen believes a disqualification for Ankalaev would have been the right call.

“The Doc asked a standard question. Whether the athlete is fainting confusion or legitimately has confusion, the doctor was right to defer to the response made,” Sonnen wrote. “The mistake here was done by the referee who should have called this a disqualification.”

“What was the doctors mistake? Every doctor leads with the same question, ‘where are you?’ Tell me where the mistake was made,” Sonnen questioned a fan.

The moment continues to split opinion, but one sentiment that is unanimously shared is disappointment at the fight not being able to play out. And with that, the title picture at light heavyweight post-Jiří Procházka vs. Alex Pereira remains unclear. 

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