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Dana White Blasts Officiating in Wake of UFC 149 Issues

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

We can all safely assume that when the DVD of UFC 149 is released, no one will be rushing to put it in a time capsule. The event -- particularly the pay-per-view main card -- was not exactly mixed martial arts at its best. UFC president Dana White bluntly admitted that in the hours after the event, when he said he was "embarrassed" at breaking the arena gate record in a sub-par outing.

But it wasn't just the shirtless men fighting in the cage that contributed to the letdown. It was also the third men, the referees, who in White's opinion, failed to do their job in key instances. Those bad calls incorrectly allowed the night's action to stall at several key moments of the night, angering White for what he sees as a trend that is not diminishing.

There were two key incidences White pointed to in the night, both during the main card. The first took place during the pay-per-view opener, when Matt Riddle landed a liver kick against Chris Clements in the first round of their fight. Thinking it was a low blow, ref Josh Rosenthal briefly stepped in to stop the action before allowing it to resume, a pause which may have cost Riddle a chance to finish the fight early.

"It's a kick to the body, and Rosenthal jumps in the middle because he thought it was a kick to the groin," White said. "Come on man, you're standing right there. Open your eyes. Pay attention, this is what you're getting paid to do. You choose to do this. If you don't want to do it 100 percent, don't do it. Go do something else. The fight could've been ended right there. That's a situation where he doesn't see it, he stops the action, gets half-assed in there instead of making a clear, decisive decision. And what if Riddle lost the fight after that, at a point where he could have won the fight because he had him hurt to the body with a beautiful kick? Which those are hard to land. You don't see those landed all the time where you hurt a guy. And he jumps in the middle."

Riddle did go on to win by third-round submission in what turned out to be the main card's most exciting fight.

That fight was saved despite the gaffe, but the same can't be said for the heavyweight bout between Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan, a match that received most of White's focus both for the way it was fought and officiated. The bout quick devolved into a clinch-fest with little in the way of action. White felt that veteran ref Yves Lavigne should have broken the two up numerous times for inactivity and restarted the fight in the center of the cage. Instead, he elected to let them fight for position against the cage for long stretches.

"Lavigne? I'm so pissed at Lavigne," he said. "He just stands there like a dope and watches these guys clinch on the fence, not advancing their position, not doing damage. Just standing there for two rounds – and then you let them do it for an entire five minutes in a three-round fight. And again, I blame all three involved in that. The two fighters and the ref. But the ref's job is to protect the fighters, make the right calls, and make sure they fight."

While discussing the night's issues, White also questioned whether Ryan Jimmo might have been robbed of the all-time fastest UFC knockout. Jimmo KO'd Anthony Perosh in their prelim in a result that was officially recorded at seven seconds. Again, it was Rosenthal at the helm, and White wondered if he'd stepped in between the fighters fast enough, though the replay showed Rosenthal stopped the fight in less than one second, with Jimmo only having time to land one more strike.

Even the judges weren't spared from White's wrath. While answering a question about the UFC's role in selecting officials in locations with athletic commissions -- none, he said -- he made allusion to the Nick Ring vs. Court McGee fight which saw Calgary local Ring win by decision. While the victory was a popular one inside Scotiabank Saddledome, White was one of many observers who felt McGee was the rightful winner of a fairly close fight.

"If I was picking the refs and a decision tonight like Nick Ring happened, you'd think that it was because of me," he said. "You'd think that I did that because Nick Ring was a superhero and just saved a couple of people from getting beat up and I wanted him to win in Canada because it would be good for our promotion. Which isn't at all what I want. I want the guys who deserve to win, to win. That's what I want. And it drives me insane when that doesn't happen."

Mostly, the entirety of the evening was enough to make him wonder why there didn't seem to be any consequences for mistakes made by MMA officials.

"Any job you have and you don't do your job, you get reprimanded, or you get suspended," he said. "You're suspended for three fights, or you have some kind of a class where you have to watch the fights and see what you did wrong. If there's no accountability? Who cares?"