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Judging, Refereeing, and Regulating Errors Continue to Plague Events

Steve Mitchell, US PRESSWIRE
Steve Mitchell, US PRESSWIRE

Dana White was clearly frustrated with his promotion's trip to Florida. While it was bad enough for the UFC president that the event didn't draw particularly well, the other issue was far more problematic for the long-term health of the sport. Namely, the Florida State Boxing Commission, which regulated the UFC on FX 3 event, turned in an atrocious performance, making a variety of errors.

White held back on slamming the team because of their relative inexperience as compared to the UFC's home state in Nevada, but this was a group that could barely handle the simplest of tasks, like correctly adding up the scorecards for the Henry Martinez vs. Bernardo Magalhaes fight.

It's not the first time we've seen that problem, of course, and if the mistakes were limited to just that, it could be forgiven. But that was just one in an epic evening of gaffes.

Here's a list of the screw-ups the team made...

On Friday's weigh-ins, the commission incorrectly announced the weights of not one, but two fighters. In one instance, the attending official announced lightweight Tim Means at 158 pounds, two pounds over the limit. Means looked confused as UFC matchmaker Joe Silva came over to the scale to find out what was going on. As it turned out, the official simply was not using the doctor's office style, balance-beam scale properly. It was Silva and fellow UFC employee Burt Watson who had to instruct him. After further review, Means was actually right on the money at 155. Incredibly, this happened a second time during weigh-ins with Lance Benoist. This is simplest of commission tasks, and again, one blunder can be excused as a mindless flub. Two? Ineptitude.

Math Problems
It didn't long on fight night for more head-scratching issues to transpire. In the second fight of the night, Martinez was originally announced as a unanimous decision winner. After further review, whoops, it was actually a split decision. A simple math error in adding three numbers. Again, a basic, simple task. Luckily, the nod still went in Martinez' favor, but it was still confirmation the previous day's weigh-in issues were no isolated incident.

Late Stoppage
Means' KO of Justin Salas was officially at 1:06 of the first round, but it probably could have ended many punches sooner. Salas wasn't unconscious, but he was clearly out of it for a while as he wobbled around the cage like a zombie while getting smashed. Ref Chris Adams gave him every chance to recover, and then two or three more he didn't need. Watching from home, fighter Gerald Harris tweeted, "Hey ref wait until his heart stops beating next time!" Refereeing is generally hard, thankless work, but yep, it was that bad.

Make Up the Rules as You Go
During the Dustin Pague vs. Jared Papazian match, ref Frank Gentile repeatedly admonished Papazian to get his feet off the cage while trying to fight off Pague's rear naked choke try. The only problem is that there's no such rule. It simply doesn't exist. Fighters are not allowed to hold or grab the fence, but they can push off it at any time, according to the Unified Rules. In fact, the Unified Rules explicitly say "A fighter may place their feet onto the cage and have their toes go through the fencing material at any time," with the caveat that they can not grab the fence with toes to manipulate their own or their opponent's body position. I thought perhaps it was possible that Florida had amended it, but nope. I checked their regulations, and under Chapter 61K1-1, the only rule is against "holding the ropes or fencing." Afterward, Papazian justly complained about the development, saying it went against everything he'd learned in the gym.

"It completely took away the defensive strategy that we had worked for this fight," he said.

Judging Disgrace
The Mike Pierce vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha fight was certainly not a thrill-ride, but it was clearly one-sided. According to FightMetric, Pierce out-landed Rocha in every round. He also took Rocha down in every round and held him there for long stretches while occasionally working him over from the top. The final strike-count was 117-38, and he out-struck Rocha by 30 landed blows or more in each of the last two rounds, yet judge Ric Bays somehow scored the fight 30-27 for Rocha. His fellow judges scored it 30-27 for Pierce, the obvious score to anyone watching with two working eyes. If that was really his honest opinion, he should never be allowed to judge again, because there is no way anyone with an understanding of the sport can rationally come to that conclusion.

Overactive Refereeing
Troy Waugh is generally a good official. He's reffed some big fights and seems competent enough. Maybe something was in the air, but during the Matt Grice vs. Leonard Garcia fight, at one point, Grice was working from the top, quite actively, and just moments after Grice landed a couple of crushing elbows from the top, Waugh warned him to stay active. Admittedly, this is the least offensive item on this list because nothing was truly affected, but it still came off out of place as Grice was working hard to take advantage of the position.

Two Illegal Blows, No Point Deduction
In the Seth Baczynski vs. Lance Benoist fight, Benoist landed two illegal strikes when Baczynski was a downed opponent, one in each of the first two rounds. Yet despite this, ref Chris Adams declined to deduct a point. These penalties are at a referee's discretion, but it's fairly rare to see two illegal strikes without a point deduction. I'd have no problem with him issuing only a warning on the first infraction, but if he doesn't offer a point deduction on the second, what is the point of having rules? At what point would enough be enough?

Luckily, most of the biggest problems took place on the prelims, because three of the four main card fights ended with a finish, allowing the fighters to control their own fates. But there was still way too much wrong, even if the commission is inexperienced, even if White held back ever so slightly on his criticism.

"It was bad," he finally said. "It was bad as bad gets."

It was probably even worse than that. For the Florida State Boxing Commission, it's not a night to forget. It's a night to remember, to learn from, so the mistakes are never repeated. Even in the professional sports world, no one is perfect, but no one should be that bad, either.

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