With the controversy over the scoring of the Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks fight at UFC 167 showing no signs of subsiding, UFC president Dana White has an idea how to push the sport's officiating forward: Make sure judges and referees know what they're watching.
While that sounds flippant on the surface, the fact is, mixed martial arts officials are often commission holdovers from boxing who lack formal training in the sport. That may have been acceptable a generation ago, when the sport was just getting off the ground, but with such high stakes in today's fights, it's time to bring judging and officiating to the next level.
So White offers a simple step forward: "First of all, boxing judges refereeing mixed martial arts fight, who know nothing about it, no former mixed martial artists, I don't think you should be judging or reffing a fight unless you've actually rolled and know what a submission feels like. How about, knows what a submission is, first?"
White left no doubt about his his opinions on Saturday night after the call in the main event went St-Pierre's way via split decision, with GSP getting two of three 48-47 judges' scores.
Asked about his comments, which was directed at the Nevada Athletic Commission, White reiterated that fans don't always understand that the UFC has nothing to do with the appointment of officials in commission states.
"One thing I wanted everyone to understand that night, I wanted to make it absolutely clear that in no way shape or form, we don't have any input with the judges or referees," White said. "We don't pick ‘em, we have nothing to do with them, it's the complete opposite. Obviously, I was a little fired up on Saturday night, but I wanted to make it clear we have absolutely nothing over what the athletic commission does, which is, the government."