On Monday, Grappling Insider reported on an impromptu match between current UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and black belt competitor Damien Nitkin that took place at High Rollerz 18. Watch the full match here.
Sterling was awarded the decision victory after a six-minute regulation period and a one-minute overtime, but a cageside video seems to show Sterling tapping to a toehold in the final 20 seconds of the match.
In the video, we see Nitkin attacking a toehold and Sterling tapping with his right hand, causing Nitkin to immediately let go of the hold. Nitkin and Sterling then return to the feet, smile at each other, and appear to exchange some words as the referee allows the match to continue.
Nitkin — who was competing in other matches at High Rollerz that night — told this to Grappling Insider: “I don’t have much to say other than I tried to be respectful in what was supposed to be a fun match for the crowd. He was a strong match, did a great job in regulation and just got caught in OT and din’t want to admit it, and I get that because he is a champ and so known. I just feel it took away what I wanted to give to my team, a chance to see that the coach they follow can compete with even someone like a UFC champ.”
Nitkin is the head instructor at and co-owner of Atlas Grappling in Las Vegas, NV.
High Rollerz is a 420-friendly grappling promotion that combines cannabis and high-level jiu-jitsu, with match winners frequently walking away with bongs or ounces of marijuana as prizes.