The lonely life of Steve Mazzagatti
If you have ever complained about Steve Mazzagatti – and you have – you should read the entire profile by MMAFighting’s Chuck Mindenhall, linked at bottom.
By day Mazzagatti is an American hero, with 17 years service in the Las Vegas County Fire department, risking his life to save others. By night life is a little bit different – the referee is regularly accused of threatening the safety and livelihood of many in the world’s fastest growing sport. And few have been as vocal as the most powerful man in MMA, Dana White.
Below White goes after Mazzagatti for over nine minutes straight. It begins “does anyone here disagree with me that Mazzagatti is a f—ing toolbox?” And then the remarks get really pointed.
Mazzagatti said he answers to Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer.
“(Kizer) is the last person to hold back any feelings – he’s just like Dana,” related Mazzagatti. “If something’s on his mind he will come to you, and get right in your face and say what the hell happened right there.”
He admits however that the criticsm hurts.
“Yeah, it bums me out,” said Mazzagatti. “I’m not out to make [Dana White] happy or anything, but I truly care about the sport. I’ve been in the fight game my whole life, and I truly care about the sport. I’ve always prided myself on enforcing these rules, and I have enforced the rules on big fights.”
“You got to understand that a promoter has one thing in mind, and that’s to promote the fighters to the next level. And if a referee gets in the way of that, I can understand [White] being pissed – I’m pissed when I have to take a point in a big huge fight like that. But rules are rules, and if we’re not going to have rules, then what are we there for?
Mazzagatti will admit too to making mistakes, as in Kevin Burns’ win over Anthony Johnson, via eye poke.
“What the hell am I going to do?” he says. “I had no idea the hand had been injured, although his fingers were causing a huge problem, and I’d warned him about his fingers. And then Anthony got poked in the eye, after I saw a combination, I saw an uppercut, and all of a sudden Anthony turns around flies on the ground and starts tapping. Well, he was in pain, and he was like, I’m done. He wasn’t necessarily tapping because he’s done, he was poked in the eye.
“Well, I had already stopped the fight. And I got to stick by that call. I’ve admitted that that loss…that was basically a bad call. That was definitely a bad call. Because of that though…we implemented in the state of Nevada and several other states now, instant replay.”
The DQ loss of Jon Jones to a helpless Matt Hamill however, Mazzagatti defends.
“(Jones) starts unloading with elbows. I wasn’t concerned,” recounts Mazzagatti. “Hamill was blocking those, he had a four-wall defense. We’ve seen it before, these guys will unload everything they got because they think they’ve got the other guy hurt, and the guy all of a sudden comes up and beats the crap out of the guy because he’s gassed or he hurt his hands trying to punch him out.
“Then all of a sudden those downward elbows came. I said, oh my god, there’s definitely a rule infringement right there – downward elbows straight through Hamill’s guard, which he’s not used to blocking 12-to-6 elbows. He got hit with three of them straight to the bridge of his nose, and when I went back and looked at the instant replay, in the first round his nose is cut open. So he’s supposed to go out and fight two more rounds with the bridge of his nose cut open, bleeding into both eyes in the first round and be able to compete?
“Unfortunately, what did I have to do? As bad as it sucked… I mean, it sucks… But I don’t regret that, no. Absolutely, that was the right thing to do. Of course, I had no idea Hamill hurt his shoulder. I don’t know these things. Only thing I know is that 12-to-6 elbows came flying down.”
In the end, Mazzagatti offers a explanation of sorts.
“I do always get caught up in the craziest s—!”