At Bellator Europe 4 Michael ‘Venom’ Page and Richard Kiely were warned by referee Dan Miragliotta before the fight that unsportsmanlike conduct would not be tolerated. However, early in the fight Kiely flipped off Page, at which point Miragliotta warned both fighters, for now the second time. Then Page dropped Kiely, punctuating his GnP with further curses. Miragliotta stopped the action, and deducted a point from Page. Ultimately Page won via flying knee, but the controversy was not over.
After the fight, MVP demanded an apology from Miragliotta for calling him a “piece of s***”.
The event was held in Dublin, Ireland, and as is standard for Bellator’s international shows, it was regulated by Michael Mazzulli, Director of Athletic Regulation for the Mohegan Tribe, and past President of the Association of Boxing Commissions. Mazzulli investigated what had transpired, and based in no small part on the excellent previous record of each, wisely decided not to fine or suspend any of the parties, but rather issued stern warnings, and set expectations going forward around the issue of sportsmanlike conduct.
Refereeing is the single most thankless task in MMA, and while some argue that refs shouldn’t comment post-fight on controversial incidents, Miragliotta understandably felt compelled to. Miragliotta said that Kiely had, against his advice, sought to shake Page’s hand, and when Miragliotta approached Page to facilitate the show of good sportsmanship, Page told the referee to “f*** off.”
“I was pissed, bro,” said the ref. “I’m 56 years old. I’m a grown man. I’m older than him. I show respect to everybody. When someone says f*** off like that to me with disrespect, I lost it. I never should have said what I said. And I know I was wrong. Under my breath, I turned, and one of his coaches was right next to me, and I said, ‘What a f***ing piece of s***.’ I knew I was wrong, and especially with it being his coach right there, and he said, ‘What did you say?’ And I said, ‘Man, I apologize. I never should have said that.’”
“It was a bad matchup, and he was dominating the kid. He didn’t have to do what he was doing. At one point, and you can watch the video and probably read his lips, he’s hitting him, then he stops and calls him a f***ing b****, he hits him again, ‘f***ing b****,’ did it a third time. He was taunting the kid. So I was like, I warned him, I’m calling time.”
After the fight ended, Miragliotta tried to make peace.
“I go, ‘Bro, you are one of the most talented guys I’ve ever refereed.’ I said, ‘Don’t ruin it with these antics. You beat the piss out of this guy, great job. You’re talented. You’re going places.’ He gave me a look like, ‘Screw you, f off.’”
Page has asked that Miragliotta not referee his fights going forward. That request appears to suit all parties.
“I’ll never do his fights again, because I can never really look at him and not have that animosity toward him, because I’m not going to let somebody tell me to f*** off, and there’s nothing I can do, and I’m an official,” said Miragliotta. “It’s not good for me or the sport.”