Worst Referee EVER Series: The Sound of One Hand Tapping

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Sound of One Hand Tapping

Being a fight referee is the most thankless job in mixed martial arts. No one ever thought their favorite fighter won due to a ref, and countless fans blame the ref for loss on any given Saturday.

No ref in MMA has withstood as much criticism as has Steve Mazzagatti.

“Mazzagatti, as a referee?” UFC President Dana White said in 2009. “This f—ing guy shouldn’t even be watching MMA on TV, let alone refereeing it. I think he’s the worst ref in the history of any fight business, ever. He’s horrible. We don’t pick the refs. The athletic commission does. Those guys are picked by the government. It’s not that I don’t like him, he’s a nice guy. He’s an absolute nice guy, he has no business whatsoever being anywhere near mixed martial arts.”

However, the Mayweather vs. Ortiz fight led White, a huge boxing fan, to declare via twitter that Mazzagatti no longer holds that distinction in his mind. The mantle has been taken by boxing referee Joe Cortez.

“Was that NUTS or what!?!?” tweeted White. “Dirty from both fighters and the most HORRIBLE refereeing I have EVER seen in boxing or anywhere else!”

However, Steve Mazzagatti and Joe Cortez are both extremely experienced officials.

When Turkey’s first BJJ black belt Official Murat “Lord Pitbull” Kazgan had his first pro MMA fight, an official was brought in from France. Unfortunately, the ref didn’t know what a tapout was. That is not an expression, like “he doesn’t know what he is talking about.” This was apparently an MMA ref who, literally, did not understand that when a fighter taps, the fight is over.

When a mixed martial arts ref does his job ideally, no one notices. When a ref fails, it’s difficult to forget.

How many taps did you count?