If you skipped Wednesday night’s episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 19” – don’t worry, you certainly aren’t the only one – you missed one of the most incompetent judging jobs of all time.
After splitting the first two periods, Roger Zapata and Ian Stephens were forced to enter a tiebreaker round. In the final stanza, referee Steve Mazzagatti docked Zapata one point for landing illegal elbows.
Zapata appeared to do enough to win the sudden death round, but because of the point deduction, the scrap should have been ruled a draw. And that’s what happened, at first.
According to UFC president Dana White (pictured), two judges scored the round a 9-9 draw while the other scored it 10-8 for Stephens. However, for some inexplicable reason, the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who was overseeing the fight, had the judges select an outright winner and they chose Zapata.
Huh? Since when are we going by Pride FC rules?
The good news is, White says the NSAC’s latest mishap has helped ignite long-overdue change in “the fight capital of the world.”
“After that moment on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ I think it created change,” White stated on UFC Tonight. “Finally, everything that I’ve been crying about and yelling about and screaming about – and fans have, too – finally came to a head in this episode of The Ultimate Fighter. I think that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has done a great in job fixing the problem and moving forward in fixing the future of reffing and judging in mixed martial arts. Here in Nevada, anyway.
“I think that this was the explosion of what’s going on and has been going on here in Nevada for a few years now. I think this was the moment where the right people recognized what was going on and that some changes needed to be made.”
According to White, newly appointed NSAC executive director Robert Bennett has since stepped in and ensured all the right people are in place so fiascoes like this are the exception, not the expectation.
In addition, after the fights, Bennett is reviewing film with referees and judges to help limit errors in the future.
Mazzagatti, Kim Winslow and Cecil Peoples – just to name a few – you better get your notepads ready…