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California commission formalizes new rule for traveling combat sports judges following Douglas Crosby controversy

MMA: DEC 10 - UFC 282 Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) on Friday issued a memorandum formalizing a rule that will disallow CSAC judges and referees from traveling across the country to work multiple events on back-to-back days.

The memorandum comes on the heels on the recent controversy regarding veteran judge Douglas Crosby, who worked Bellator 289 this past Friday in Uncasville, Conn., then flew to Las Vegas to work UFC 282 on Saturday. Crosby came under fire for his scorecards on back-to-back days, first with his dissenting 50-45 in favor of Danny Sabatello over Raufeon Stots in a split decision won by Stots in Bellator 289’s main event, then with his 29-28 in favor of Paddy Pimblett over Jared Gordon in a unanimous decision won by Pimblett at UFC 282.

The practice of barring cross-country travel for judges to work back-to-back events first arose for CSAC officials in 2019, but officially became formalized on Friday.

Ariel Helwani first reported the news.

Text of the official CSAC memorandum can be read below, as written by CSAC Executive Officer Andy Foster.

While the Commission understands that, as Officials you may also work in other states. It is imperative that you be at your best for those assignments and keep in mind the travel distance between locations when accepting consecutive assignments. If you work in California on a Friday, the Commission finds it acceptable for you to work as far as Nevada on Saturday or vice versa. If you accept an out-of-state assignment that is within one day of an assignment in California, you may be removed from the California assignment if you are being required to travel further than the state of Nevada.

Both recent scorecards from Crosby drew widespread criticism from the fighter community, with UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling calling the situation “the most ignorant judging I’ve seen in awhile at a high level of MMA.”

Stots on Wednesday said on MMA Fighting’s The MMA Hour that he does not plan to allow Crosby to judge any of his future fights.

“I need to ask the general public, the MMA fans, how the f*** do you get Doug Crosby suspended from my fights? Because I had seen he was banned from Ray Longo’s fights, I want to join that ship,” Stots said on The MMA Hour. “I don’t want him nowhere near [any] of my cards. I need to figure that out.

“I don’t want him judging anything related to me, any of my friends, none of it. I seen what he did to my friend, my homeboy Jared Gordon, he did that 50-45 to me. Professionally, I’m cool on Doug Crosby. I hope he has a good life away from me, but as far as anything [related to] me, I don’t want a part of it.”

A formal complaint against Crosby’s ability to work both events was also lodged by a member of the public at the most recent meeting of the Nevada Athletic Commission.

Following Bellator 289, Mohegan Athletic Department Director of Athletics Mike Mazzulli told MMA Fighting that the commission has scheduled a review of the scoring of Stots vs. Sabtatello with the three judges involved in the fight, including Crosby, and that sanctions are possible for judges who did not correctly apply the official scoring criteria.

“This is a very serious situation,” Mazzulli wrote. “The Mohegan Tribe Athletic Department always looks out for the best interests of all fighters. In the past the Mohegan Tribe Athletic Department has sanctioned officials that are not performing to the level that is required. Such sanctions, when they occur, are not made public.”

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