There's a scandal stemming from an official telling a fighter to stand up during Saturday night's EliteXC show, and MMA fans deserve answers.
No, I'm not talking about the claims from Seth Petruzelli that an EliteXC official paid him extra cash to stand up in his fight against Kimbo Slice. I'm talking about referee Jorge Ortiz ordering Roy Nelson to stand up when he had side control on the ground against Andrei Arlovski.
Watch the fight, and you'll see that Nelson got side control with 3:01 remaining in the first round, and he looked like he was in great position to dominate the rest of the round and maybe pull the upset. But it didn't happen, because Ortiz stood them up with 2:22 remaining in the round.
Ortiz said "you gotta improve your position" three times before he stood them up, so you can't say Nelson wasn't warned. But you can say that Ortiz was wrong to make that instruction, because Nelson was doing plenty on the ground. During their 39 seconds on the ground, Nelson had gotten Arlovski in a wrist lock as a precursor to a kimura, and had landed three solid knees to Arlovski's side. How does that justify standing the fighters up?
I wanted to ask Ortiz that, so on Monday I called the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which licenses Ortiz and all the refs who worked Saturday night's show. When I first called, I was told that they'd get back to me with Ortiz's contact information. That hasn't happened, and now they're not returning my phone calls, so I'm assuming that Ortiz told the spokespeople there that he doesn't want to have to explain himself.
And that's wrong. The whole point of having the state sanctioning bodies overseeing MMA is that the sport is supposed to have accountability.
Ortiz has been criticized for standing fighters up too quickly in the past, notably in multiple fights on the undercard the last time Kimbo fought in Florida. Maybe that makes him a great ref in the eyes of EliteXC. But it makes him a bad ref in the eyes of those of us who want to see the rules of mixed martial arts applied properly. They weren't applied properly on Saturday night, and it may have cost Nelson the fight.