Florida AC cites miscommunication in Papazian vs Pague

by Matt Erickson | source: mmajunkie.com

Fighters make mistakes in fights. Officials do too - humans are human.

However, the level of officiating at UFC on FX 3 in Florida was unusually controversial. Combined with challenging ticket sales, the UFC was not impressed.

When remined it had been over three years since the UFC was last in Florida, President Dana White's reply was characteristically blunt: "It's gonna be a while again."

At the post-fight news conference, White expressed particular disbelief about the referees actions in Dustin Pague vs. Jared Papazian.

"How about the guy who's yelling at the fighters, saying, 'You can't touch the cage'?" said White. "Like his body cannot touch the cage. What? There were others, too. It was bad. It was as bad as bad gets. I mean, when the ref is interfering with the fight – you're not even supposed to know the ref is there. But that wasn't the case tonight."

MMAJunkie contacted Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the Florida Boxing Commission, to hear the official's side of the reffing controversy.

Friday's oddest incident involving a referee took place in a preliminary card fight between Pague and Papazian. When the fight hit the ground, Dustin Pague worked for a rear-naked choke. To defend, Papazian tried to push off the cage with his feet. As shown on the FUEL TV live broadcast, in a span of about 30 seconds, referee Frank Gentile warned Papazian six times not to push off the cage with his feet.

At the 2:25 mark of the first round, Gentile told Papazian, "Get your feet of the cage. Get your feet off that cage." He followed, seconds later, by telling the fighter twice to "Push off the cage," implying Papazian was not allowed to use his feet for any kind of leverage as he tried to defend Pague on his back. And just seconds after that, Gentile warned both Papazian and Pague to remove their feet from the cage – and stepped in to physically pull their feet back himself.

Moments later, Papazian, his feet now on the canvas, was forced to tap to the choke.

Under the Unified Rules of MMA, a fighter cannot use his toes to "grab hold of the fence and start to control either their body position or their opponent's body position." But a fighter may, however, "place their feet onto the cage and have their toes go through the fencing material at any time." Replays on FUEL did not appear to show Papazian's feet, or Pague's, for that matter, using toes to advance their position at any time.

"In the specific situation with Papazian’s feet on the cage, there was a miscommunication between the referee and the fighter," Sandi Poreda, the director of communications for the FDBPR said. "The referee was enforcing the rule that prohibits 'grabbing' the cage with one's toes. The officials discuss each event after the event has concluded. This issue was discussed, and the officials were encouraged to communicate clearly with fighters. Jared Papazian has not appealed the decision."

"The Commission conducts pre- and post-event briefs with the officials at each event. Updates to rules and any other pertinent information is discussed prior to events, and a full discussion of each event is held after the event concludes. This in-field training is used to ensure officials have the most current information and are constantly reviewing their work to increase professional development."

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tags: UFC   Dustin Pague (detail)  Jared Papazian (detail)  


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Recent Comments »

orlis site profile image  

6/17/12 9:06 PM by orlis

Well, actually it doesn't say "a fighter cannot use his toes to grab hold of the fence and start to control either their body position or their opponent's body position" in the Unified Rules anywhere. What it says is: "13: 46-24A.14 Warnings (a) The referee shall issue a single warning for the following infractions. After the initial warning, if the prohibited conduct persists, a penalty will be issued. The penalty may result in adeduction of points or disqualification. 1. Holding or grabbing the fence..."

MartialArtsMixed site profile image  

6/14/12 12:46 AM by MartialArtsMixed

I remember this fight because as my buddies and I were watching we said the Ref just changed the outcome of this fight. It was BS, and then we found out the fight was held in Florida. Those damn Floridians.

Zamiel site profile image  

6/14/12 12:39 AM by Zamiel

Its not that hard to tell whether someone is pushing or grabbing.

WikiTheWalrus site profile image  

6/13/12 11:33 PM by WikiTheWalrus

That's what happens when there are stupid rules like this. Asking a ref to differentiate between using toes to control body position and when the toes only go through the fence during a fight is pretty dumb.Make the rule easier to define. Look at the effect of the fence grab, not whether the fence was grabbed or not. If grabbing the fence with either fingers or toes results in controlling or preventing the opponent's movement, or doing so defends a grappling transition, then that is a foul. If they grab the fence and it has no effect on their position or they are not defending a position, then no foul.Refs already do this anyway. Refs rarely take the point away, and usually when they do it's because the fighter either prevented a takedown or used the fence to trap their opponent. Just codify the rule how it's being enforced by intelligent, seasoned refs.