MVP, Kiely, and Miragliotta avoid fines or suspensions for Bellator Dublin conduct

Monday, September 30, 2019

Pre-fight trash talk is an unfortunate staple in mixed martial arts, and sometimes it spills into the fight, where it is less tolerated. Bellator Europe 4 provided a prominent example.

Michael 'Venom' Page and Richard Kiely were warned by referee Dan Miragliotta before the fight that unsportsmanlike conduct would not be tolerated, but the official's directions were ignored. Early in the fight Kiely flipped off Page, at which point Miragliotta warned both fighters, for now the second time.

Shortly afterward, Page dropped Kiely, and initiated a ground and pound, punctuated with further trash talk. Miragliotta stopped the action, and deducted a point from Page. Page won via flying knee, and when he was prevented from going back towards the fallen fighter by the referee, Miragliotta reported that the fighter directed explicit language at him.

At one point, Miragliotta referred to Page as a "piece of s***". The fighter later took pointed, public exception to the insult, although it later came out that the words were not spoken directly to the fighter himself.

The event was held in Dublin, Ireland, and as is standard for Bellator's international events, it was regulated by Michael Mazzulli, Director of Athletic Regulation for the Mohegan Tribe, and past President of the Association of Boxing Commissions. It fell to Mazzulli to investigate what had transpired, and determine what punishment, if any, was appropriate.

Mazzulli took into account that Kiely, Page, and Miragliotta have exemplified good conduct in the past, and decided to warn all three gentlemen, and detailed for them that going forward, they will each be expected to behave in a sportsmanlike fashion. No fines or suspensions were meted out.

There was a degree of controversy around Miragliotta's point deduction, but Mazzulli explained to Nolan King for MMA Junkie that unsportsmanlike conduct is determined by the referee, and that Miragliotta's decision was reasonable. Mazzulli said too that had Miragliotta not deducted a point, he would have trusted that judgment as well.

And lastly, Page has said that his next fight will be in England, and he is adamant that he does not want Miragliotta to be the referee. Mazzulli will regulate the event, and he was understanding of the request.

Going forward, all three parties know what is expected of them.

“First time, shame on you," said Mazzulli. "Second time, shame on the commissioner.”