One of the bigger talking points coming out of this weekend’s UFC 142 event in Rio De Janero, Brazil was the refereeing on display from Dan Mirgliotta and Mario Yamasaki that landed them in hot water.
The first referee is question, Yamasaki disqualified rising Brazilian star Erick Silva for landing a punch to the back of the head of Carlo Prater who he had charged and obliterated, the shots in question took place while Prater was on the mat being pummeled and frantically looking for answers.
Instead of deducting a point and resetting action on the feet before the welterweight put the nail in the coffin he ceased action immediately and awarded the victory to Prater who still remained on wobbly legs at that point.
Post-fight UFC commentator Joe Rogan questioned the senior referee about his call – Rogan insisted that all the blows landed by the Brazilian were in fact legal but Yamasaki disagreed supporting his decision stating “I had to decide right there and then. There’s nothing I can do,”
Mirgliotta on the other hand, was the third man in the cage in the co-main event between Vitor Belfort and Anthony Johnson – “Rumble” Johnson knew he was in a do-or-die situation having missed weight by 12-pounds and didn’t want to trade blow-for-blow with a feared striker like Belfort, instead opting to repeatedly take him down.
On two separate occasions the NCAA Division I wrestler placed Belfort on his butt but before he was able to implement his game searching to ground-and-pound or hunt for a submission the referee brought them back to a standing position quickly.
As a result of these stand-ups Johnson not only lost the fight to the hometown hero but he has also been exiled from the organization.
The questionable refereeing of the man in charge has sparked a flame of controversy with many believing he was “encouraged” to piggyback Belfort to success.
The long-time veteran referee has had allegations of fixing fights thrown his way – In 2008 he was in charge of Elite XC’s biggest fight at that time between backyard brawler turned professional fighter Kimbo Slice and PRIDE vet James Thompson.
Thompson saw blood at the end of the second frame with a minute remaining he unloaded with over 20 unanswered shots on the YouTube sensation who was allowed to keep in the game despite having his beard almost punched off.
In the final stanza it was a different story when Slice connected with two solid punches the ref in charge stopped in to protect the Brit pushing Slices unbeaten record to 3-0.
I’m not one to push the blame without any form of evidence to support the claim but EliteXC were known for some shady business dealings, most notably encouraging ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ veteran Seth Petruzelli to slug it out with their poster-boy Kimbo, and we all remember how that turned out for them.
The reality is both judges and referees hold combatant’s futures in their hands; in the cut-throat industry of mixed martial arts the difference between a win and a loss has never been greater.
Judges are often the biggest targets for criticism from people in the industry and your average Joe sitting on the couch with a beer in his hand that thinks he can do a better job – It seems that after almost every Event there are one or two highly debated score cards put forward by the people that matter cage side.
However, judges have been punished for their wrong doings in the past – Doug Crosby has all in all been a pretty respectable judge but the one black eye against his name is scoring every round for Frankie Edgar in his UFC lightweight title fight against BJ Penn at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi which is absurd.
It took Crosby the better part of twelve months to build back a high enough level of trust with Keith Keizer and the executives of the Nevada State Athletic Commission to get octagon side judging duties.
What you have to understand is that judges and referees aren’t employed by the UFC. They are employed by the Athletic Commissions of each state or province they visit so it is their job to provide the highest level of service to the respective organizations as possible.
Scoring or refereeing fights is the career path they chose and it is their job to do so and should be punished or at least questioned for their actions.
In your line of work if you make a huge mistake that affects the people around you does it simply get swept under the rug and forgotten? No, there are consequences to your actions and it should be no different here.
When Rogan questioned Yamasaki on his actions in the cage this past Saturday he did the right thing, the referee made a decision in a high-pressure situation and love it or hate it without the benefit of instant replay he made his choice and he should get an opportunity to explain himself.
Keep in mind, that the only reason this happened was because we were in Brazil, a country without an Athletic Commission – Anywhere else, the Athletic Director would have stepped in and now allowed Rogan to do so unless the referee insisted upon it.
The real issue at hand is the Athletic Commissions don’t like to be questioned on what they do – Take Duane Ludwig for example, Nevada still doesn’t count his 6.06 second thrashing of Jonathan Goulet as their fastest knockout, instead giving the honor to Todd Duffee for his 8 second win over Tim Hague.
In this one guys insignificant opinion, when a judge or referee makes a big mistake they should have to answer to the media about it.
Now I’m not saying that in a situation where fighter A hits fighter B one too many times before the referee steps in to stop the action that they should be questioned but when Kim Winslow allows Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos to beat Jan Finney within an inch of her life, I think we deserve answers.