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The NFL Just Turned Into the UFC

Fights broke out in both the Bengals-Jaguars game and in Saints-Buccaneers, leading to two ejections and one questionable non-ejection

Cincinnati Bengals v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images

Saturday night’s UFC 217 event seems to have inspired some of the NFL’s wide receivers.

Late in the second quarter of the Jacksonville-Cincinnati game on Sunday, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey were both ejected for fighting.

After a play was blown dead just seconds before the end of the first half, Ramsey shoved Green to the ground. Green got up, put Ramsey in a chokehold, threw him down, and began punching Ramsey’s helmet. As Ramsey rose up to his knees, Green put him in a second chokehold and slammed him back to the ground as most of the Jaguars defense swarmed to Ramsey’s aide.

The play led to offsetting penalties and the ejection of both players with the Jaguars in the lead 13-7. They are the sixth and seventh players to be ejected from NFL games this year, and this is the second ejection of Ramsey’s career—Ramsey was thrown out of a game against the Raiders last October for fighting.

Ramsey, one of the league’s rising star cornerbacks, is known as a prolific trash talker. He held Green to just one reception on two targets for 6 yards in the first half, which likely added to Green’s frustration.

Later, in the second half of the Saints-Buccaneers game, another star wide receiver got into an altercation with a young cornerback. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, who had left the game with a shoulder injury at halftime, came off the sideline after a play midway through the third quarter and poked Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore in the back of the helmet. Lattimore turned around and shoved Winston, and the two exchanged words. Within seconds, Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans sprinted full speed into Lattimore, knocking him to the ground. Evans then appeared to punch Lattimore before the two were separated.

Evans was (somehow) not ejected.

Like Green, Evans had been held to just a single catch at the time of the incident, and the Saints had a 30-3 lead.

Not to be outdone, the Cardinals and 49ers engaged in a scrap toward the end of Arizona’s 20-10 victory over San Francisco. Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea hit 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard in the head while Beathard was sliding, which spawned a group-wide shoving match.

Arizona linebacker Haason Reddick, defensive lineman Frostee Rucker, and San Francisco running back Carlos Hyde were ejected for fighting. The 15-yard penalty on Bethea was enforced, while the penalties for fighting offset each other. It’s like something was in the water on Sunday.