Dana White Outraged by Steve Mazzagatti’s Reffing, Believes He’ll Be Assigned Anderson Silva Fight

June 16, 2013
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Courtesy of Damon Martin and official MMAWeekly.com content partner Bleacher Report.

UFC president Dana White at UFC 146UFC president Dana White has never been shy when talking about the mistakes made by certain referees and judges that can cost a fighter a win or loss, and potentially affect their long-term futures with the decisions they make.

The biggest axe that White has to grind on that subject comes by the way of referee Steve Mazzagatti, who he has repeatedly slammed for bad decision-making whenever he’s involved in a fight.

The latest infraction involving Mazzagatti didn’t even take place in White’s organization, but it didn’t stop him from seeing just how incompetent the referee can be in making calls during a fight.

The bout in question was the main event in the World Series of Fighting 3 card pitting former UFC welterweight title contender Jon Fitch against Josh Burkman. The fight ended when Burkman locked up a guillotine choke and Fitch went unconscious.  Before Mazzagatti even motioned to check the fighter’s condition, Burkman let go of the hold and was standing up over his opponent, who laid motionless on the canvas.

“Does anyone disagree with me that Mazzagatti’s a (expletive) toolbox?  I mean he literally did nothing,” White said about the referee’s performance on Friday night.  “Literally when (Fitch) goes limp, he goes limp, he’s out and then (Burkman) rolls him (expletive) over, lets his head (expletive) flop to the thing and then stands up over him.  He’s literally like this standing up over him before Mazzagatti even (expletive) gets in the picture.”

Mazzagatti is a mainstay in the referee pool used by the Nevada State Athletic Commission whenever fights come to the state.  The commission assigns the referees to each individual bout, and the promotion has no say in which referee works a particular fight.

White believes Mazzagatti’s continued incompetence is going to eventually get a fighter seriously hurt because he simply does not understand the sport.

“The Nevada State Athletic Commission is going to keep this (expletive) guy around until he seriously hurt somebody.  That guy is dangerous.  He’s dangerous,” White stated. “It’s disgusting.  At what point do you realize that this guy is an incompetent fool and he’s going to hurt somebody.

“I wonder what’s going to happen when somebody gets seriously hurt in a Mazzagatti fight.  What are they going to write it off to?  Anything can happen?  This is a combat sport and anything can happen? This guy is dangerous.”

The only problem that White sees with his continued outrage about Mazzagatti’s refereeing is the fact that whenever he screams the loudest, the Nevada commission quickly reacts by placing him as the referee in the biggest fight possible.

White chalks it up to the commission flexing their muscle, and not being willing to admit fault that Mazzagatti is just a terrible referee.

“They’ll make him the main event now. Now because I said this, the Nevada State Athletic Commission will give him the (Anderson) Silva fight (at UFC 162),” White said.  “It’s not corrupt when you talk about the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the fact that they keep doing this, it’s complete and total ego. Because I keep complaining, they will keep putting him front and center.”

The commission remains in charge of the referee assignments for each particular show, but fighters do have the right to complain if they do not want a certain person in charge of their fight. Unfortunately, the promotion does not have that same power, so it always comes down to the fighters and their willingness to take the battle to the commission.

At the end of the day, White says he has nothing personal against Mazzagatti because he doesn’t even know him, but his refereeing is atrocious and he believes he has no business inside the sport of MMA.

“The guy shouldn’t even be watching MMA on television, let alone (expletive) reffing it,” White said.

The UFC will return to Nevada in three weeks’ time for UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman, and it will be interesting to see if the commission will place Mazzagatti on the card, and how many fights he will be involved in that night.

Check out more UFC coverage from official MMAWeekly.com content partner Bleacher Report and Damon Martin.

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  • Baller31

    For once I agree with Dana White…Mazzagatti has to go. If Burkman would have kept choking Fitch until Mazzagatti stepped in, Fitch would be brain dead.

    • Sir_Roy

      He needs to answer for that fight. No question. He’s playing with fighter’s lives. A move like that should cost him his job. Completely horrendous reffing.

  • Jona81

    NSAC is a joke, they won’t let Big John get a license in Nevada. The guy running it is a total idiot.

    • Ian Price

      Seriously? I thought big john was alright.

  • Rob

    I like that Dana is doing this.

  • Timothy Malone

    It says fighters can complain to the commission about the ref assignment. I don’t know if I would want to since if they deny your request you then have a ref in there with a grudge against you…

  • Black Xicano

    I disagree. I think there has been some questionable judgement, but watching Burkman and Fitch I don’t know how Mazzagatti could’ve intervened any quicker. The fighter doing the submission is always gonna feel his opponents body go limp before the ref can see it. And Fitch went out kinda quick because he was being choked while standing, too…As soon as Burkman felt him go limp he let go. I’m sure a lot of us question Dana’s competence running the UFC and f***in’ fighters over, but guess what, nobody can do s*** about that, either. We should all get over it.

  • Moleman

    Mazzagatti was getting some popcorn. What is the big deal?

  • b-soc

    Not very often I agree with Dana, but this time I do. That looked really bad. Burkeman had every right to hold that choke, but he didn’t. But, the head drop on the canvas was not bad. It was from like 8 inches, but I digress. Steve is an idiot ref who should be given time off to at least be given a seminar and test scenarios. Give him a chance, and if he continues to mess up, then can him.

  • Advance*

    I just think back to when Mir had Brock in a knee bar and Mazzagatti completely ignored the first blatant tap.

  • Alex Stanford

    I’ve thought mazz was a horrible ref for years. He handles fouls poorly, deals with close submissions poorly, and has a horrible track record of stoppages. Big mirg had a rocky start, but he has actually learned and improved. Mazz is simply the worst and has no business reffing.

  • rainman

    Dana White vs. Steve Mazzagatti for the ufc 162 co main event.

    • Ian Price

      They can “auto-referee” each other while fighting.

  • diazfan209

    I find it funny that Dana White is offended about Steve Mazzagatti neglecting the livelihood of Jon Fitch.

  • Kalei Kealoha

    now if only dana would be as good about his fight match ups as he is at recognizing bad reffing

  • julian moran

    Big John is the only ref that comes to mind that always does a good job. Lavigne did good at UFC 161 though.

    • BobLemons

      Marc Goddard does as great job as far as I can recall.

      • Ian Price

        Also, Herb Dean might be the best referee.

    • Mcgiggity

      Herb dean is a great ref 9 times out of 10 and josh Rosenthal is a great ref 10 out of 10. I can’t recall any decisions by mark Goddard that were unjust off hand.

      It’s worthy of note that mazzagatti doesn’t just s*** the bed when it comes to the UFC. He’s made many, many terrible calls reffing for smaller shows such as the IFC, kotc, and GC when they have come to nevada. I have personally booed the man from my seat at all of these shows.

      I’d rather have andy Anderson reffing my fights than Steve mazzagatti. A least he knows the importance of good reffing (or a lack thereof).

      • Baller31

        Rosenthal was way late in his stoppage of the Munoz/Weidman fight.

  • George Sperry

    I rarely agree w/Dana but I am in 100% agreement on Mazzagatti. He is awful. Remember when Lesner was beating the tar out of Mir and while Mir was twisting Brock hit him ONE TIME in the back of the head? Brock might have finished Frank, instead Brock was penalized a point and the fight was stood up. Mir went on to win.
    BTW am I the only one that thinks Mazzagatti looks like he is doing an imitation of “Carl the groundskeeper” from Caddyshack when he briefs the fighters in the ring?

  • Darin

    The Anthony Johnson eyepoke, the Jones/Hamill debacle…..all the BS calls seem to come from Mazz.

    • Lucas Freire

      Was going to call the Jones/Hamill fight. That was a complete unnecessary massacre. For a moment I thought Hamill would become blind.

  • Christina

    All refs make bonehead calls at one time or another. Mazzagatti was out of position to notice Fitch was out. We’ve all seen him make good calls and bad ones. One thing for sure is ALL refs need good training on how to recognize when a fighter is out. There also should be a grading system in place so that refs that show poor judgement get additional training or removed. And huge kudos to Burkman for releasing the hold. Most fighters would have told the ref the fighter was out and waited. Josh knew that wasn’t appropriate. First class.

  • Ian Price

    “The guy shouldn’t even be watching MMA on television, let alone (expletive) reffing it,” White said.

    That’s hilarious. White sometimes cracks me up. Seriously, who else gets as many complaints as Mazzagati?

  • Drock420

    This isn’t a surprise to me, something always goes wrong when Mazzagatti is reffing, ever since UFC 74 that Babalu Sobral vs David Heath fight, I never liked him as a ref.

  • Ron Wheeler

    20-20 hindsight is a great thing. Sure Mazz has made mistakes in the past, as have most of the others to various degrees. But guillotines are hard to read and this one was a bit freaky, especially when you have a fighter known to weather out subs over and over.

    Given how many fights are ruined by the opposite problem, refs jumping in too soon, I’m not joining Dana’s financially motivated lynchmob here.

    • Mike mckinney

      What’s the financial motivation to complaining about late stoppages?
      I’m missing it. I’d think late stoppages would tend to give more highlights to make promos with.
      But I guess he wasn’t only questioning late stops, just this time.

      I’m curious what you think Dana’s angle is here.

  • popular64

    Completely agree. What is he getting paid for then? Ridiculous, he should have been watching more closely.

  • gilbert

    the ref should be questioned by the press! draw him out showing the replay and going over the specs regarding timing stopping a fight.

  • Bountyhunter

    In all fairness, most of us thought Fitch was more or less choke proof. I love Fitch & thought he was 100% going to get out of that guillotine. Mazzagatti may have made other mistakes but this one is understandable considering who was getting choked.