For as long as I can remember I’ve heard how great the Nevada State Athletic Commission was. When crazy things would happen at a boxing match in some small town, you would always hear “things like that don’t happen in Nevada”. That may be true and while I have to admit I’ve seen a lot of fights in Vegas that were handled correctly, that wasn’t the case Saturday night for the Strikeforce card at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Between the referees and the judges, I’m not sure who had a tougher night. Dana White has always said he feels Herb Dean is the best referee in MMA. I’ve always wondered if White truly believes this, or intends it as a shot at “Big” John McCarthy who had a falling out with White a few years back.
White will not allow announcer Bruce Buffer to refer to McCarthy as “Big John”. Listen the next time the UFC has a card in California; you will hear Buffer almost whisper “your referee is John McCarthy”.
Getting back to Dean, I think Herb usually does a great job. How many times have I written what he told us on Clinch Gear Radio…”A good referee is one who stops a fight a punch too early as opposed to a punch too late”.
I wish Herb would have followed his own advice Saturday as he let a helpless Keith Jardine take punch after punch from Luke Rockhold when “The Dean of Mean” was clearly out and no longer able to defend himself. It was scary to see live and watching the replay of the Showtime broadcast it was obvious Mauro Ranallo felt the same way I did.
As bad as Dean was, he wasn’t even the worst referee working. That honor would go to Kim Winslow. White has always complained about the work of Steve Mazzagatti, calling Mazzagatti “The worst referee in the sport” any chance he gets. I wonder if the UFC president will change his vote after sitting ringside and watching Winslow allow “King Mo” Lawal to land 15 unanswered punches to the face of Lorenz Larkin before finally stepping in.
Winslow is the same ref who a year ago let an over-matched Jan Finney answer the bell for the second round against Cris “Cyborg” Santos when it was clear the beaten up Finney had no shot to win the fight.
This was supposed to be a big weekend for Strikeforce as they hosted their first card of the year on a weekend where Showtime was being provided by most cable and satellite providers for free. You have to wonder how many people decided to check MMA out for the first time. Luckily, Larkin and Jardine are OK, but I hope someone from the NSAC sits down with both to review the tapes and ask them what the hell they were waiting for.
The judges assigned for the night of fights also had their problems. Most of the people in attendance believed James Terry did enough to defeat Nah Shon Burell. Not NSAC’s finest who awarded Burell the victory. Burell’s corner men were heard telling people backstage “we stole that one”.
One judge gave Tarec Saffiedine all three rounds of his back and forth battle with Tyler Stinson. The always classy Saffiedine questioned this afterwards saying he believed Stinson had done enough to win the first.
The worst call of the night was the judge who thought Jordan Mein (who spent all three rounds on his back after being taken down) had done enough to beat Tyron Woodley. Woodley used his superior wrestling skills to dominate Mein over the course of the fight.
I’m pretty sure Glen Trowbridge was the ONLY person in Vegas who thought Mein won the fight.
Like I said for the most part the NSAC does a solid job of making sure qualified people are assigned to work the fights. Saturday night (in front of a national TV audience) was not one of those nights. Let’s hope they are better the next time before somebody gets seriously hurt.