Cheating is nothing new in the world of regional MMA, but seeing a fighter choose to bite his opponent’s ear in order to secure a rear-naked choke is something that very few people will have seen before. This is exactly what happened at Octagon 44 on April 29th, 2023, an event that took place in Kazakhstan and brought fighters from around the world to compete. It was a perfectly normal MMA event for the most part, with some exciting exchanges and fun finishes throughout the first few hours of fights.
Then in one of the final fights of the night, local welterweight Erkin Darmenov was taking on Brazilian fighter Thiago Oliveira. Darmenov was coming into the fight in good form with four wins in a row and he was no doubt looking to improve upon his 12-5 professional record in order to earn a call-up to a major organization. Oliveira on the other hand was unsuccessful in his Bellator debut back in 2019 and had lost 4 fights in a row since then. Although he did well in the early stages of his career, Oliveira was sitting at 16-9 coming into this fight and was needed to get back in the win column as soon as possible.
Darmenov was winning most of the striking exchanges and landed a few heavy shots in the first round, likely making that one a 10-9 for him. Then in the second round Oliveira landed a knee against the cage that caused his opponent to drop slightly and he took full advantage of the situation. Oliveira landed a few shots before taking Darmenov’s back and started to work for the rear-naked choke when suddenly, Darmenov opened up the space around his neck to complain to the referee. Oliveira jumped on the chance to sink in the choke and forced his opponent to tap but it was clear that something unusual happened.
While Oliveira began celebrating with his corner, Darmenov was holding his ear and attempting to bring attention to something the fact that his opponent had to bite him in order to lock up the choke. Darmenov’s corner immediately started to protest and Oliveira denied everything, while officials did a great job of preventing any fights from breaking out in the cage. Although Oliveira was celebrating his victory, his happiness didn’t last long. The referee reviewed the footage and disqualified him, giving Darmenov the official win instead.
The full Octagon 44 event was uploaded to the promotion’s official YouTube channel, and the moment when one fighter chooses to bite his opponent’s ear to secure the rear-naked choke happens at around the 4:15:31 mark: