Judging and refereeing in MMA have recently come under heavy criticism due to a series of questionable actions in high profile matches.
on July 8 at AX Combat 1 on July 8 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada a fight between Kim Couture and Sheila Bird hit the mat, and Bird secured a head scissor on her opponent. As can be seen in the video below (1:50 mark), Couture's entire body went visbily limp, and several long seconds passed before the ref ended the bout. Further, the ref ended it not by tapping the winning competitor or physically pulling the legs apart, but by waving his hands overhead.
Couture quiickly recovered, suffered no damage from the choke, and publicly stated she had no problem with the officiating.
Now the Calgary Combative Sports Commission has conducted a formal review of the stoppage, and has come down firmly in support of the referee.
“As standard practice, debriefing meetings are always held amongst commission members and officials following any supervised combative sports event held in Calgary,” read a statement from the Calgary commission. “The committee discussed the call made by the official for the Couture vs. Bird bout. It was determined that a formal review would be conducted of the circumstances surrounding that call.
“After an in-depth investigation, the Calgary Combative Sports Commission members rendered a decision to support the official, Mr. Len Koivisto. No further action or investigations into the officiating of Mr. Koivisto will be required by the Commission.
“Mr. Koivisto has been involved in the combative sports industry for close to 40 years, the last 23 in various officiating capacities. He is a well respected boxing referee (nationally and internationally) and has officiated MMA (nationally) for several years in various jurisdictions in close to 400 matches without incident. He has always taken his ring official’s duties very seriously and conducts himself with a great deal of professionalism.”
Here's the twist... the sad, unfortunate, you're-really-dropping-the-ball-here-CCSC-twist: Mr. Koivisto has taken the COMMAND course before and he failed miserably; and this was the COMMAND Judges Certification course. As a graduate of that same program, I can tell you that it's daunting. I can also tell you that having passed the Judges course in no way qualifies me to referee a mixed martial arts bout, so how does a history as a boxing official and a failing grade on the easier of the two COMMAND courses justify Mr. Koivisto being the third person in the ring for MMA events?
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