Dan Miragliotta ruled Gegard Mousasi’s knees to Chris Weidman’s head as illegal. In real time at UFC 210 in Buffalo, Miragliotta believed Weidman had both his palms down on the floor, making those strikes prohibited.
As far as Ray Longo is concerned, that’s where the conversation should have ended. Weidman’s longtime striking coach thought Miragliotta was out of bounds for changing the call and ruling the knees legal.
“Stick to your f*cking decision,” Longo said Monday on the Anik Florian Podcast. “I want to know who the hell convinced him to change his mind.”
Miragliotta appeared to consult fellow referee John McCarthy about the call and McCarthy said the knees were legal. And they were. Weidman didn’t have both hands down for either of the two knees and never had his full palms or fists down, which he needed to do to be considered grounded under the recently altered Unified Rules of MMA.
It remains unclear if the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) allows instant replay. Those on the broadcast, including UFC regulatory head Marc Ratner, said replay was not allowed in the state. While Miragliotta didn’t look at a replay himself, he was surely using information from a replay when he ruled the knees were legal.
“Take it step by step,” Longo said. “Stick to your call and that’s it. Whether the knee was legal or illegal is really irrelevant. Because the other thing that I think people are missing is he didn’t go down when he got kneed. He would have kept fighting.”
MMA Fighting has asked for a clarification from the NYSAC on its instant-replay rules, but has yet to get a response.
The knees were ruled legal by Miragliotta and doctors were in the cage checking on Weidman. The doctors said Weidman could not go on. So since the knees were not a foul, Mousasi was granted the TKO victory. Longo said Weidman was ready to keep fighting, which is what Weidman said himself in the post-fight press conference.
“This is what nobody gets,” Longo said. “He’s already in a different mindset now. You’re f*cking with a guy in the middle of the fight.
“Now you tell a guy there’s an illegal knee, you encourage a guy to take a break, you’re changing the guy’s mindset.”
Audio from the corner captured Miragliotta telling Longo and coach Matt Serra that Weidman didn’t know what month it was when asked, which could have contributed to the bout being ended.
Either way, Longo is furious about the recent rule change. Previously, a fighter was considered grounded if he or she only had one finger on the floor. It was anything but the soles of the feet on the canvas making a fighter grounded, thereby making knees or kicks to the head illegal.
Under the new rule, passed by the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) and Combative Sports last year and adopted by some states, fighters won’t be able to just have a finger or hand on the floor — they need two full palms or two full fists to be considered grounded.
On Monday, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board (NJSACB) wrote a letter urging the ABC to reconsider the rules changes. The NJSACB has been against it from the beginning and has not adopted it in its state.
Longo is in full agreement, because he believes if two hands have to be on the floor, then a fighter cannot protect his or her head in the event an opponent throws a knee anyway.
“Why did they change that rule?” Longo said. “You got guys changing rules for the sake of just changing something to satisfy their ego. That rule sucks, I tell you right now.
“Every other sport is going toward safety of the fighters. These idiots that made this rule are putting guys in harm’s way — they really are. So his hands are down, but it’s not his palms. Are you kidding? What was wrong with the other way? Why are they changing rules at this point? You had a great sport.”