After injuries forced him to watch from the sidelines for more than a year, UFC Denver was supposed to be the triumphant return for UFC veteran Chas Skelly as he squared off against promotional newcomer Bobby Moffett.
But this feel-good story was quickly overshadowed by controversy.
During the fight, Skelly found himself stuck in a tight D’arce choke against the fence early in the second round. Defending the choke, Skelly worked relentlessly to circle away and escape.
Too bad the referee never let him get to the point of breaking free as he unexpectedly jumped in and stopped the fight, much to the chagrin of a livid Skelly.
“I wasn’t out at all,” Skelly told Luke Thomas during an appearance on The MMA Hour. “I felt like I was past the hardest part of the choke. I was relaxed and it was just a matter of time before I was getting out of there.”
After the fight, Skelly revealed he was doing exactly he was trained to do when stuck in that specific choke. From relaxing his muscles to circling away, he felt he was doing everything in his power to fight off the submission.
As for referee Tim Mills, Skelly claims he never even gave him a chance to show he was still in the fight.
“He didn’t do a test at all,” said Skelly. “When he grabbed my arm, he came in to stop the fight. He wasn’t checking to see if I was conscious or unconscious. He was stopping the fight. I was relaxed there at that point. When you’re watching it, of course I’m relaxed. I’m not tensed up. So he grabs my arm and shakes it, of course my arm’s is going to shake. What do you want from me? I was relaxed.”
In his post-fight interview, Skelly revealed Mills’s explanation for the premature stoppage was due to seeing his eyes fluttering as if he was on the verge of losing consciousness.
Too bad Skelly wasn’t buying it.
“The guy is human,” said Skelly. “He made a mistake. But I think he was looking for an excuse to say ‘oh god, I’m sorry. I thought you were out. I thought I saw your eyes fluttering.’ Then you go back and look at the tape and say ‘but look, your arm looks like it’s limp.’ He didn’t think that when it was live. He never said anything about my arm being limp or anything like that until he went back and watched the replay in super slow-mo. He didn’t even do an arm check. He was just coming in to stop the fight. As for the eyes fluttering, I saw an angle where you could see me blink and I guess that’s maybe what he could be talking about.”
Skelly, who initially said he planned to appeal the loss, says hold he has no ill will towards Moffett just “was out there to do his job.”
But if exploring the route of overturning the outcome to a no-contest means his opponent loses out on his win bonus, Skelly will simply move on from the situation.
“Hopefully, we get to run it back,” said Skelly. “But, I don’t care to get it turned to a no-contest if they’re going to take [Moffett’s] win bonus. I’m not taking money out of anybody’s pocket. Just turning an ‘L’ into a ‘W’ doesn’t matter to me. But, if they do let him keep his money and it gets me a better chance at getting rematch and the commission says it’s a No Contest, then I’d like to appeal [the loss].”
This setback marked Skelly’s first walk to the Octagon since his loss to Jason Knight at UFC 211 in May 2017. Since then, Skelly has been recovering from Tommy Johnson surgery on his right arm.
With his body finally at full strength, Skelly doesn’t plan on missing anymore action after going through what he described a “hard camp” into an “emotional fight,” especially if he gets a second shot at Moffett.
“I want the rematch,” said Skelly. “But, if they just tell me I’ll get the rematch without a no-contest, I don’t really care. What’s it mean to me? It’s just a ‘W’ or an ‘L’ on a sheet of paper. I don’t give a sh*t about that. The damage has already been done. What I care about is getting paid.”