At last weekend’s UFC 161 card and half-way through the post-fight presser, Dana White launched into a diatribe on Steve Mazzagatti and his 41 seconds of officiating during the Burkman / Fitch fight, for the WSOF.

In an animated verbal lambasting of Mazzagatti, one rife with 25 F-bombs and 31 expletives in total and taking 9+ minutes to expound, White laid out the case passionately and forcefully, that the NSAC licensed referee is an “incompetent fool… and shouldn’t even be watching MMA on television let alone reffing it”.

When asked about whether or not he has voiced his concerns to NSAC, White replied that the UFC had gone so far as to send them DVDs’ of “Steve Mazzagatti’s greatest moments”, however, the response from them has been “they don’t give a ****.”

The UFC president went so far as to say that the attitude over at Nevada State Athletic Commission is such, that White expects them to punish the promotion for his negative remarks regarding the referee and NSAC itself and to do so, by giving the 185 title bout and top-of-the-card event officiating duties at UFC 162 to Mazzagatti. Dana fully expects it as payback.

Ariel Helwani then chimed-in with an interesting question regarding NSAC retribution, asking “is that not unfathomable, the fact that no one polices, in our sport, the police officers…you can even say it’s corrupt at this point”

To which White replied “It’s not corrupt…it’s complete and total ego”.

In terms of what can be done about Mazzagatti or NSAC, Dana said that where the promotion cannot bar him from officiating events the fighters can request a different referee, should Mazzagatti be assigned to their bout. Regarding NSAC, White stated that he would bring (civil) legal action against the commission in the event of a serious injury to a fighter, during a bout called by the “toolbox”. 

All-in-all, it seems that the UFC president believes that NSAC is not an un-biased, simply doing their jobs, kind of commission and in actuality, might be more of a dubious, self-interested bunch and one with an agenda other than the one they were created for.

On this issue I’m with Ariel Helwani, who does police the police?

I also agree with Dana that they’re not corrupt, but are NSAC or any other commission doing their best for a sport they might not understand or truly appreciate? Maybe even a better question is why are they trusted or needed to govern a sport and in particular a promotion, that has no record of corruption or misbehaviour? Simply put, why can’t the UFC govern itself, set its own rules and policies and pick its own officials (referees and judges)?

For my money, it’s a bureaucracy which has been hefted upon the sport and due to no fault of the sport itself. I’m for regulation when it works, is practical, responsive and efficient. However and regarding the officials they license, NSAC seems to be more of a hindrance to the sport then an asset and they certainly don’t seem to be listening to the sport’s biggest promotion on how to improve fighter safety in the ring by culling out bad referees; Steve Mazzagatti being the first that should go.

What do you think? Is NSAC failing the UFC on the issue of referee competence?

Do you think the sport even needs commission oversight?

*Relevant portion of the interview begins at (roughly) the 13 minute mark.