Florida is famous for a lot of things: warm weather, sandy beaches, alligators, oranges, hanging chads and now, in the words of UFC President Dana White: “bad judging and even worse reffing”. White was referring to the judging and reffing that took place at UFC on FX 3, this past Friday from Sunrise, Florida.
In the fight between Seth Baczynski and Lance Benoist, Baczynski took two knees to the face while grounded. Rather than docking a point from Benoist, he was merely given a warning. Things like this are common when fighters move from one state’s commission to another, and in their defense, the Florida Boxing Commission has not held governance over a UFC Event in over three years. However, this was not the only incident in question.
Take the fight between Dustin Pague and Jared Papazian for example. When the fight went to ground, Pague went for a rear-naked choke. To escape from it, Papazian started to push off the cage with his feet. Referee Frank Gentile warned Papazian six times not to push off the cage with his feet, going so far as to step in pull both of the fighters’ feet off the cage, himself. There was no sign that either fighter was fence-grabbing with their toes. Gentile’s actions were pointed out by White in the post-event press conference: “How about the guy who’s yelling at the fighters, yelling, ‘You can’t touch the cage’? 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 completely…you’re not even supposed to know the ref is there. But that wasn’t the case tonight.”
However, the Florida Boxing Commission (FBC) is standing by Gentile. The Commission said through spokesperson Sandi Poreda: “In the specific situation with Papazian’s feet on the cage, there was a miscommunication between the referee and the fighter. 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.”
Even more unusual was the scoring of the Mike Pierce vs. Carlos Rocha bout. Pierce controlled the entire fight and yet it was recorded as a split-decision. Having seen my share of fights 6 inches from the cage or the ring, I do not always subscribe to the “what fight was he watching?” school of thought. There are things that can be missed in a fight depending upon where the judge in question is sitting and their field of view. In this instance, the judge had reversed the corners and scored the fight in error.
Our friends at MMAJunkie.com confirmed this with the FBC: “Officials with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the Florida Boxing Commission, on Tuesday confirmed to MMAjunkie.com that judge Ric Bays, whose score was read as 30-27 for Rocha, had scored the fight in error.
“After the fight, Ric Bays informed the Commission that he scored the wrong corner and asked for a correction,” said Sandi Poreda, the director of communications for the FDBPR. “As the other fight was starting, the commission changed it on the official record.”
The problem is that nobody bothered to inform Price that he actually won by unanimous-decision until a day after the fight: “I was unaware that the judge scored it for the wrong corner, nor was I told. My thoughts on the outcome still remain the same. Judges have had a bad rap for a while now, and it’s instances like this that don’t help their case any. I don’t know what’s worse: Scoring it for Rocha 30-27, or saying he accidentally put the scores down wrong on the card. Come on, pal – you only have two options: red or blue. Bruce Buffer even starts out by introducing us from the red or blue corners. It seriously makes you wonder where the hell they get these people.”
Bad decisions, misgiuided referee calls and poor scoring are part of the fight business. Usually they are isolated incidents and occur every once in a while. The headliner of UFC on FX 3: Demitrius vs. McCall, was, ironically, a rematch that resulted from improper scoring in Australia. However, this card seemed to be rife with these issues. One cannot blame Dana White for telling the press that night: “You better get used to Vegas.”