A referee’s job is to enforce the rules and protect a fighter from taking unnecessary damage. Jake Shields believes Steve Mazzagatti failed to do either during his WSOF 22 title fight against Rousimar Palhares on August 1.
Palhares repeatedly eye-gouged Shields and held onto a kimura well after Shields was tapping to the submission. Shields can’t believe Mazzagatti, who warned Palhares for the gouges, didn’t take a point a way from the Brazilian.
“Man, I was absolutely astonished that he didn’t take a point,” Shields told Submission Radio.
Shields was critical of Mazzagatti’s abilities as a referee and said he’d refuse to allow him to be the third man in the cage for any of his fights in the future.
“Honestly, I’ve never really taken an interest in Steve Mazzagatti. I know he has a terrible reputation as a ref but I’ve never like really paid attention to be honest. I didn’t know if it was deserved or not. But after today, I think the guy’s a joke and I’ll refuse to have him ref me again, especially because I had some words with him at the end. There’s no way I’ll let the guy ref me,” he said.
“If you blatantly let a guy – a guy who’s known as a cheater – I mean I’ve never seen him gouge eyes before, but he blatantly let a guy just put his thumbs in my eyes over and over. It wasn’t the kind if eye-gouge that you see when guys are throwing punches, he was taking hands and trying gouge me eyes out,” added Shields.
The fight ended when Shields attempted to take Palhares down in the third round. Palhares applied a kimura and started cranking. Shields rolled, trying to escape the submission but ultimately was forced to tap out. When he did, Palhares continued to crank. Mazzagatti intervened and Palhares let the submission go. Although holding onto a submission too long is a blatant violation of the rules and unsportsmanlike, Shields was still more upset about the eye-gouging.
“I’m a lot more irritated about the eye pokes, but it’s still ridiculous that he clearly held a submission too long after I tapped,” he said.
WSOF stripped Palhares of the title on Tuesday and suspended him indefinitely. The Nevada State Athletic Commission is reviewing the fight and has withheld Palhares’ win bonus. Shields could also face disciplinary action for punching Palhares after the fight in retaliation for holding the submission too long.