It was an inauspicious debut in his new weight class for former welterweight Jason High, who faced Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 42 as a lightweight. Not only did he lose the fight to the Brazilian via a second round TKO, he then acted out emotionally by shoving referee Kevin Mulhall in the aftermath.
As Mulhall came over to check on him, "The Kansas City Bandit" shoved the referee with two hands. Laying your hands on an official is a major no-no in any sport, and is usually accompanied by severe punishment.
After the incident, High posted an apology on his Twitter feed, that read: "Incredibly sorry & embarrassed for the ref incident. Will never happen again."
UFC president Dana White was not on hand in Albuquerque for the fights at the Tingley Coliseum, as he was in Maine for a family function. But when Dave Sholler, the UFC's Senior Director of Public Relations, was asked about what kind of punishment High might be expected to be levied on him at the post-fight press conference, Sholler said stay tuned.
"Ultimately that decision's going to be ultimately up to the commission when you talk about fines or suspensions," he said. "On behalf of the organization, completely unacceptable. You can't put your hands on an official. In the heat of the moment a lot of things can happen, but you can't put your hands on the official.
"So we'll regroup on Monday with the executive team and we'll figure out if there's any other things that need to happen. But ultimately, from a decision-making standpoint, from fines and suspensions, that's up to commissioner [Thomas] King."
Though it's not an exact parallel, the incident brought to mind the Paul Daley episode after he fought Josh Koscheck at UFC 113 in Montreal. After a frustrating fight in which he wasn't able to execute his offense, Daley sucker-punched Koscheck after the final bell. In that case, the UFC immediately served the Brit Daley his walking papers, and to this day he hasn't been allowed back in the UFC.
High's shove was less egregious than Daley's sucker-punch, and it was clearly done out of frustrations -- but the fact that it was a New Mexico State Athletic Commission official will bring the matter under scrutiny from both the UFC and the NMSAC.