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British officials boycott ACB promotion

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Russian promotion Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB) may have to rethink their planned trip to Manchester, England on March 11th after a wave of the UK's leading officials today boycotted the promotion.

Referees Marc Goddard and Leon Roberts – who are both currently in the running for 'Referee of the Year' at the Ninth Annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards – along with fellow third man Dan Movahedi, plus judges David Lethaby, Ben Cartlidge, Mark Collett and Kev Capel have all ruled themselves out of participating in any future ACB events following the overturning of two results in Vienna recently.

A statement released to Fighters Only this afternoon from the group reads: 'Since ACB’s decision to overturn the results in their Vienna ACB 52 event between Patrick Kincl vs. Arbi Agujev and Joao Luis Nogueira vs Shamil Nikaev; the listed officials will be stepping down from working the planned ACB 54 event in Manchester on March 11th.'

ACB 52 took place in Austria on January 21st when Nogueira was awarded a unanimous 29-28 decision victory over Nikaev, with Polish judge Piotr Michalak and British judges Collett and Lethaby agreeing on every round. ACB, however, overturned this decision to a no contest and issued the following statement.

“The result of the Shamil Nikaev – Joao Luiz Nogueira fight changed to NC (No contest). On Friday the ACB office received reports from the independent judicial experts from Russia and Europe. 12 of the 12 judges awarded their points in favor of Nikaev. They are the experts from Russia Viktor Korneev, Maria Makhmutova, Ahmed Baysultanov, Magomed Magomedov, Yuri Batman, the Polish judge Pawel Harasim and many others. As a result, the promotion has changed the decision of judges who served the ACB 52 tournament in Vienna. Beginning from the next ACB tournaments the judge panel will be radically revised.”

The British official's statement continues: 'Without any sign of judge corruption or incompetence, as a group of officials we feel it is a hugely dangerous and unprecedented step to change a unanimously agreed decision after the event. Also, in the main event, referee Neil Hall called a stop to the contest declaring Patrick Kincl the winner via TKO. Mr Hall made his assessment that Agujev was no longer intelligently defending himself in mount, and stopped the bout in the interest of fighter safety. This result was also later overturned to a no contest by the promotion.

'In the interest of supporting the Unified Rules of MMA and respecting the performing athletes, all the British staff listed above feel that officiating positions within the ACB organisation have become untenable.'

ACB 54: Supersonic is booked for Manchester Arena on March 11th and is scheduled to feature a rift of talent; including Luke Barnatt, Saul Rogers, Pat Healy, Vinny Magalhaes, Brett Copper and Mike WIlkinson.

Fighters Only reached out to ACB officials this afternoon for a response and will be updating this story should the promotion respond.