Canadian bantamweight Serhiy Sidey won a UFC contract Tuesday by stopping American Ramon (The Savage) Taveras in the first round on "Dana White's Contender Series."
"A dream come true," said the 27-year-old from Burlington, Ont.
Taveras landed on his butt when he caught a left and right to the head, prompting referee Kevin MacDonald to quickly step in at two minutes 26 seconds. The TKO stoppage seemed premature with Taveras (9-2-0) still defending himself.
White, the UFC president, was shown shaking his head on camera.
"Horrible ref stoppage. One of the worst ref stoppages I've ever seen," White said after the bout while announcing which fighters had earned contracts. "I don't know what the guy was thinking or why it happened.
"But that's not your fault. You came in and did what you're supposed to and you looked damn good doing it … You're in. Congratulations. Great fight, kid."
Sidey (10-1-0) dismissed the controversy.
"I did my job. If I wasn't going to stop him there, I was going to stop him a couple of seconds later. I could have finished him a million different ways. My job is to go in there and just keep fighting 'til the ref pulls me off. And the ref pulled me off."
And he celebrated the win — and the training that led up to it.
"Me and my team we've been in this game for a decade now," said Sidey, who has won six straight. "And it's just so good to see all the hard work, all the things we do together, pays off on the highest level. Now we know. Our team, we're going to the top, we're going to the frigging top."
It was a fourth first-round finish for Sidey.
Born in Ukraine, Sidey was six when his family moved to Canada. He trains at Aegis MMA in Oakville, Ont., and the Burlington Training Centre.
White said Taveras would get another shot on the Contender Series.
The Contender Series held at the UFC's Apex production facility, offers fighters a chance to impress the UFC president — and possibly earn a UFC deal.
Canadians (Proper) Mike Malott, Chad (The Monster) Anheliger and T.J. (The Truth) Laramie are among those who won UFC contracts on the Contenders Series.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 5, 2023.