UFC 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.
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