Random Rant: Time to cut the refs some slack

Much is being made about two of the stoppages that took place during UFC Fight Night 13 on Spike TV last night and I just needed to give my two cents.

I really believe we need to start giving the officials in MMA a lot more slack. Is there a tougher sport to officiate in the world than MMA? If you’re an umpire and you blow a strike call, a hitter gets sent back to the bench. In MMA, if you make a bad decision then a guy can get sent to the hospital.

This sport would not be where it is today if there weren’t compassionate, competent referees that existed to see to it that MMA evolved from human cockfighting into a legitimate sport. If we had a bunch of irresponsible, bloody thirsty cowboys in there calling the fights then the list of states where MMA is currently prohibited would be much higher.

It’s real easy from our perspective to sit back and watch a guy get drilled and say, “Man, the referee should have left that go on a little longer” but it’s another thing if you were in the cage with two fighters and you saw one guy in trouble. What would you do? Stand there and enjoy it? Or would you feel the need to step in and protect a guy from suffering permanent injury?

In the case of Houston Alexander, I think the right call was made. If Houston says he was never out, I believe him. But whether he was conscious or not is moot. James Irvin had him in mount and had already dropped two bombs on him. Alexander was not defending himself and wasn’t going to get out of that position. Irvin had him in check mate. Kudos for the stoppage.

In regard to Karo Parisyan, I think the matter of the stoppage there is a little more gray. But Steve Mazzagatti’s track record speaks for itself. If he felt the early stoppage was the right call to make, I’m inclined to accept his judgment.

Referees in MMA don’t have the benefit of replay and they don’t have the luxury of thinking of whether to make a call. They have to act quickly and decisively. The refs aren’t there to act in the best interest of the promoter or the fan; they are there to act on behalf of the fighter. Unless it’s an egregious error, I’m not going to condemn an official for trying to protect a fighter.

38 COMMENTS
  • FrankD says:

    I’m not sure how anyone can say the Karo fight got stopped early. He took a knee to the face and his legs buckled…like a belt! He then got punched in the face 4 times and was only just starting to cover up…and I would say what he was doing hardly counts as inteligently defending yourself.

    Bottom line is we all watched it on TV or some of us watched it live, but Mazzagatti was only a few feet away.

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  • CAP says:

    I agree 100%

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  • Davey D says:

    Sam, your last paragraph says it all and I agree 100%. No one likes an early stoppage but it is even worse when someone gets carried out on a stretcher or god forbid, died in there. If a ref has a chance to stop the fight and save a fighter from any further damage, they have to do what’s needed for every fighter’s safety – wheter they are a veteren or not.

    I didn’t get to see the Irvin/Alexander fight but I’ll catch it sooner or later. I really think Houston should go to the WEC and try his game there. If he were to lose again in the UFC. I really don’t it would fair all to well for him when his contract is up considering his age. Best of luck to him.

    Karo – if he really did duck Jon Fitch, I’m sure he wishes he never would’ve done that now. I saw that bout last night and I think the stoppage was just. I really don’t think Karo could’ve improved his position quick enough anyways so it’s back to the drawing board for him.

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  • TomK says:

    Not for nothing, but I think a lot of it has to do with angles as well. I would (more often than not) want to defer to the ref who is standing near/over/around the fighters and has a better view (or at least far closer view) than people watching on TV at home.

    The baseball analogy is perfect. We’re complaining about whether a fighter wins or loses a fight based on a potentially early stoppage, when we should be more concerned with making sure that a fighter’s career/health isn’t jeopardized by a late stoppage.

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  • John says:

    Completely, 100% agree. I questioned the Alexander fight until the replay, then I was sold. The Karo fight, I dont think he has any beef at all. He got caught hardcore..and bodies that arent out dont drop like his did. I’m surprised the Hamil/Boetsch fight didnt get stopped sooner.

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  • Rich S. says:

    personally,

    i had no problem with the stoppage in the Houston/Irvin fight.. it was early.. but.. houston’s arms were stiff in the air [muscle spasms and what-not] and you can tell he wasn’t concious until the ref touched him.. as soon as the ref landed on him.. you could see his head bounce and he came to..

    and the karo fight..
    i felt that was a good stoppage too..
    i mean.. it could have gone longer.. but it would’ve been more of karo getting punched in the head and not defending..
    the knee buckled his knees.. and he collapsed.. then.. while he laid on his side.. he was taking huge blows to the head.. he may not have been “unconcious” be he WAS defenseless..

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  • Kelvin says:

    I agree…and with fighter’s protesting the stoppages…it’s the same as a judges decision…if you don’t want the ref to stop the fight…don’t let yourself get in that situation.

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  • Buddha says:

    I do not see the big stink about either stoppage, especially the Alexander one. Alexander was clearly out, it was just that the moment the ref stopped it he came around. Now if the ref hadnt of stopped it he would of ate more unanswered punches and the fight would of ended the same way. So it doesnt really matter, he was going to lose one way or another.

    As for Karo, the stoppage was a tad early, and I am not as convinced that he was hurt enough to warrant it. BUT I think he was clearly hurt, his knee buckled and for a second he seemed be out, but he I think he had recovered when the fight was stopped. Though I do not think he was “Out” I feel if the ref hadn’t of stopped it that Alves was in such a dominant possession that he would of continued to pound out Karo. I think its actually better for Karo that he got the early stoppage, because now theres always controversy tied to the loss instead of being a decisive win for Thiago. Now Karo can always pawn the loss off on the ref and possibly get a rematch.

    OFF TOPIC but does Thiago remind anyone else of a WW version of Wandy?

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  • Buddha says:

    Apologies for all the typos and grammatical errors in my last comment! :X

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  • roomservicetaco says:

    Agree it’s better to stop any combat sport one punch too soon than one punch too late.

    That said, I didn’t have a big problem with the Karo stoppage, mainly because it seemed like he was destined to take 2-5 more hard shots to the face. But, it seemed in this case like the ref anticipated the stoppage more than responding to how the fighter defended himself. When he saw Karo drop from the knee, he assumed that he’d be out when he hit the canvass and was already jumping in to stop the fight before seeing that Karo was covering up.

    More praise should also be given to Herb Dean for how he handled the Lauzon fight. He gave Lauzon every opportunity to get out of mount, even though he was being punched, then stepped in at just the moment when the damage was becoming overwhelming.

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  • Patrick says:

    The refs did the right thing last night in both cases.

    Karo was done for, Alexander was done for.

    The rule is that they need to be able to intelligently defend themselves… neither Karo or Houston was able to do that after they got nailed.

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  • GirlyGirl says:

    >

    I have to agree with Buddha on this one. If you watched the replay, it looked like Karo was getting back up as Mazzagatti got on top of him.

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  • Derek B. says:

    Agreed!

    “In regard to Karo Parisyan, I think the matter of the stoppage there is a little more gray. But Steve Mazzagatti’s track record speaks for itself. If he felt the early stoppage was the right call to make, I’m inclined to accept his judgment.”

    I felt that Mazzagatti did the right thing. Karo’s knee’s buckled and I didn’t see any way of him being able to regain composure.

    Either way you’re always going to have people who go against the refs in every sport. I just think that the refs are doing their job protecting the fighters.

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  • Mike Wolfe says:

    I had to watch Fight Night on a DVR delay. I “rewound” both stoppages several times due to the boos and the remarks. Karo and Houston were understandably disappointed about losing, but both stoppages were the right call. Houston was clearly out, and Karo was clearly disoriented and having difficulties defending. Neither would have been able to get up and fight on. The only question was how much more they would absorb.

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  • rob says:

    the same thing happened to Ho0uston Alexander in his fight against Keith Jardine except he was given time to recover and from doing thatg he ended up winning the fight

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  • steve24 says:

    Nice write up Sam.

    On the Karo fight, I thought the stoppage was justified. If your a ref, and you see someones leg buckle like the way Karo’s did after he ate that knee, you have no choice but to be in their stopping the fight. Especially after they took a couple unanswered punches. Good call!

    And I’m not sure why everybody wants to see a rematch between Alexander and Houston. It’s not like it was a good fight or went to a close decision. So why does he deserve a rematch? Is it Irvin’s fault that Houston and no chin what-so-ever? Sorry, but Houstons two victories were a fluke. Sure he might win again, but never against an opponent like Jardine again.

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  • seth b says:

    “This sport would not be where it is today if there weren’t compassionate, competent referees that existed to see to it that MMA evolved from human cockfighting into a legitimate sport.”

    and

    “If you didn’t enjoy last night’s season premiere for the seventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” then chances are you don’t like fighting.”

    Keep it up Sam, you are on a roll today! Rampage and Forrest had me cracking up, even during those Ruins spots that they did.

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  • Chris says:

    It is great to see that so many people feel the same way. Great work, Sam

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  • Tommy says:

    Steve went over and looked right into Karo’s face before he stopped the fight. I’m gonna have to side with Steve’s decision to stop the fight. I thought the Houston fight was stopped right as well. You can’t be limp and taking strikes.

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  • clint notestine says:

    Both stoppages were good. Alexander was Nate Quarry’d on the ground and Karo was on the verge of taking unanswered punches Ken Shamrock style. Hey either way bth fights can now have rematches and all the fighters are entertaining so not a bad thing.

    I’d rather see a fighters wallet and record damaged that their body damaged.

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  • JacRabbit says:

    The Alexander stoppage was on point, though it sucked…

    …but the Karo stoppage was ridiculous. Yes he did get rocked, but his hands never went limp. He definitely wasn’t knocked out. Yes he did take a couple of shots while trying to regroup, but he didn’t eat some massively unstoppable barrage of punches to warrant stoppage. They need to get rid of Steve…

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  • Buddha says:

    JacRabbit: I agree with you that the Karo stoppage was a bit early but let me ask you this. Do you really think that in the position Thiago was in, that if the fight would have went on say another 5-10 seconds anything would have gone differently? Karo was clearly rocked, though not out, but I do not really see a way he could of weathered the storm. Yeah he was fine when the fight stopped but if Mazzagatti didn’t step in Alves would of continued to pummel him from a very dominant position with very hard shots. It is of my opinion that if it went those extra seconds Karo would of taken more punishment and the fight would of been stopped anyway. So yeah we missed out on seeing a more brutal TKO but the results would of been the same.

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  • Bofa Deez says:

    The rules don’t state that at fighter has to be unconscious for a stoppage. They simply state that the fighter is unable to intelligently defend themselves. As for Karo, blocking punches with his face is would not be considered intelligently defending himself. As far as Alexander, it appeared to be the same thing that happened to Chuck with Rampage. He was only out for a second, but it was long enough to have taken blows, that could have caused serious damage. So I say good call on both fights.

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  • RT says:

    I think at Karo’s level with his Title shot on the line he deserves a little more time to regain his faculties.

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  • twankydawg says:

    Karo folded up like an accordion and was taking some shots flush, I think they could’ve let it go a second or so more, but I don’t believe the stoppage was early or unwarranted. The refs have to do what’s right no matter who the fighter is. They are the ones on top of the action so people need to quit armchair quarterbacking the situations when no one had as good a viewpoint as them.

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  • The House says:

    I might get some heat for this next comment, but does Karo train hard before a fight? I mean, I know that two months before a BJJ comp I am in learning mode and not in as good of shape as I could be but by a week before the comp I am in prime condition. Maybe I am looking into this too much but he looked out of shape especially when compared to Thiago. Again, maybe he doesn’t worry too much about his conditioning but he just didn’t look good. Just curious to see what everyone else thinks.

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  • Rich S. says:

    “the same thing happened to Ho0uston Alexander in his fight against Keith Jardine except he was given time to recover and from doing thatg he ended up winning the fight”

    in that case… houston hit the ground and jumped right back up..
    in this case.. he hit the ground and stopped moving.. he was stiff, and unconcious.. until the ref jumped in..

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  • Chabb says:

    I agree 100% as well, the idiots on yahoo and sherdog make me want to vomit, Karo was DESIMATED by that knee, and then his hot head armenian temper made him seem as if he was ok, after he was rescued from a sure pummling from Thiago… get with it people, would you rather have an early stoppage or the chance that one of your fav fighters may never walk to the cage again? Everytime you take blows to the head like that you bust blood vessells in your brain, too many and you look like ALI

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  • Jiu-Jitsu Guy says:

    Houston was owned. No other way to describe it.

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  • Derek B. says:

    “Maybe I am looking into this too much but he looked out of shape especially when compared to Thiago.”

    Looking out of shape and being out of shape are 2 different things. Example Fedor…He always looks out of shape but we all know he’s in good shape before his fights. Looks can be deceiving my friend. He just got caught…that’s all there is too it.

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  • Echolocating says:

    Mazzagatti called Houston’s fight right.

    Steve also called Karo’s fight right, but called it just a bit too early. Nothing would have changed if he gave Karo 3 or 4 more seconds, but fans want to see decisive victories. I completely respect Mazzagatti’s concern for the fighters’ health, but I like seeing fights finished… not stopped just before they are finished.

    Next time, Steve, let Karo get hit in the head just a few more times… you know, for the fans. ;-)

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  • The House says:

    Derek, good point.

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  • Hogan says:

    The stoppages were solid and I have no complaints. But please explain why when Lesnar struck Mir in the back of the head the fight was stopped, a point deducted and recovery time granted. In the JLo Ken Flo fight Florian was clearly striking in the back of the head opening a nasty cut. Florian was warned and the fight continued on the feet with no recovery time granted. J LO wasn’t the same and that incident could have changed the course of the fight. Why are these situations left to discretion and not governed by a set rule or protical?

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  • mu_shin says:

    Anybody who has ever been in the ring, or on the training floor, knows that a heavy shot to the head can turn the lights out instantly. They may come back on in a second or two, and the fighter might not even be aware of the time lapse, but they were out none the less.

    Watching the fights, I thought the Karo call might have been a second or two too early, but having been in the dream-land after getting punched in the head, I’ll go with Mazagatti’s call and watch for Karo to come back and fight another day, with all his faculties intact. Peace…

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  • jason hughes says:

    Do we really need a different ref for every fight, this isnt basketball, i mean there not exactly running up and down the court all night. there would be a lot more consistecy if one ref handled the first half of the card and another for the second half. mazzagati completly called that fight before it was over.i dont like stoppages on what the ref thinks is going to happen, let the action provide the finish, a knockout, afighter unconciuos, things like that. i dont wanto see a fighter not covering up take two shots and have mazagatti call the fight . seems when the title shots aka sylvia vs noguiera happen refs tend to let the action go. it dosent really show a fifghters best when he takes two on theground and and there stopping the fight. NO REASON FEDOR DOSENT WANT TO FIGHT RANDT IN THE CAGE. TREE ELBOWS DOWN IN THE CORNER AND AND THE UFC REFS ARE CALLING THE FIGHT. is there any body out there that agrees, or am i gonna get that safety comes first shit again. let them fight till they are unconcious.

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  • HexRei says:

    # # 35 djbobo Says:
    April 5th, 2008 at 2:33 am

    karo sucks and is overated,he doesnt even deserve a title shot who has he beat that gives him a title shot,he was to pussy to fight fitch and has paid the price

    Um, Ryo Chonan, Josh Burkman, Drew Fickett, Matt Serra, Chris Lytle, Nick Diaz, Shonie Carter, Dave Strasser, to name a few. His recent loss definitely counts him out for a title shot in the near future but before this loss he had a very nice run with only two losses in seven years and those to Diego and GSP two very tough guys.

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  • rusty says:

    I think both were stopped a little too soon. Houston was dropped against Jardine like rob said above and came back and won. I would have liked to see Karo get knocked completely out and was on his way to sleepy time. Speaking of knockout how about the knock out of Tommy Speer by Anthony Johnson, that was just nasty. Speer thought he was 6 yrs old getting yelled at in the corner.

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  • Shaun says:

    altogether and overall they were good calls. karo and houston got caught one way flattened out and the over hunched over. neither went to turtle or pulled guard. as a fan you want to see it go on five more second but as a ref you don’t want a downed fighter taking a single punch after getting knocked out, crap like that can seriously damage you when your out.

    both got caught in upsets. both need to be man enough to admit it. hats off to thiago and james.

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