UFC 156 in Las Vegas is only 2 weeks away and all eyes are on the main event of featherweight champion Jose Aldo and challenger Frankie Edgar. For a fight as important as this, you would think it is of paramount importance to the Nevada State Athletic Commission to get the highest quality referee and highest quality judges. MMA Junkie named the referee and the judges:
During a meeting Tuesday in Las Vegas, the Nevada State Athletic Commission tapped veteran referee Steve Mazzagatti to officiate UFC 156’s main event.
Additionally, the commission named Adelaide Byrd, Jeff Collins and Junichiro Kamijo to judge the featherweight title fight.
Mazzagatti is not exactly a favorite of Dana White, and he’s made that clear multiple times. Steve’s infamous moments in the Octagon include a no-warning point deduction on Brock Lesnar when he punched Frank Mir in the back of the head at UFC 81, and then later that year controversially awarded a TKO win for Kevin Burns against Anthony Johnson, even though Burns clearly “TKOed” Rumble with the last of multiple eye-pokes. That said, I actually think that he’s done a much better job with … “not being the story” in fights he has reffed over the last several months. That means timely stoppages, no controversial point deductions (to my recollection), no poor stand-ups, etc. He’s somewhat earned the benefit of the doubt, in my view. However…
The Adelaide Byrd assignment is puzzling. It makes you root for a stoppage regardless of who wins. Not even one month ago from today she scored Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner 30-27 for Guillard. She has a history of unspeakably bad scorecards in both MMA and boxing. If we only stick with MMA, Byrd scored Jake Ellenberger vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha 30-27 for Rocha, and gave Leonard Garcia the first fight against Nam Phan. And now the Nevada State Athletic Commission sees it perfectly acceptable to give her not just a title fight, but a title fight featuring Frankie Edgar, and we all know that when his fights go the distance there is no controversy at all.
If you are wondering about whether or not these assignments can be changed at the request of a fighter, MMA Junkie’s John Morgan provided the answer on Twitter (first discussed by Robert Sargent of MMA Rising and then Kenny Florian):
@mmarising @kennyflorian Every fighter has right to offer concerns beforehand (Lesnar always did with Mazzagatti) but not after assignment.
— John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) January 22, 2013
In other words, there’s nothing either Aldo or Edgar can do since the NSAC already assigned everyone. However, if there were concerns from either of them beforehand, then it’s possible we’d be looking at a different assignment list.
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