Dana White (pictured) is arguably the single-most powerful man in all of mixed martial arts, but that doesn’t mean the UFC president doesn’t have to follow protocol.
As many suspected, White overstepped his bounds by relieving judge Howard Hughes from his duties after two dubious decisions to start off UFC Fight Night 48 in Macau.
“He was involved in the first fight and the second fight,” White said after Saturday’s card. “I told the guys to go let him grab some beer and some popcorn and go sit down and start watching some fights, not judging them.”
The UFC regulates its own events when they host shows in countries that don’t have their own active governing body for MMA. UFC VP of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner, the Nevada Athletic Commission’s former executive director, oversees the entire process – from selecting judges and referees, to administering drug tests, etc.
However, White sidestepped Ratner when he decided to yank Hughes. White’s move raised several red flags, leaving most believing he set a bad precedent for what will be done in the future when judges don’t score fights the way White thinks they should be recorded.
The UFC agreed White was wrong and issued a statement Tuesday addressing the situation:
“After an internal review, the UFC organization announced today that a breach of its independent regulatory protocol occurred on Saturday night during UFC FIGHT NIGHT MACAO.
After the second fight of the night, UFC President Dana White requested that Howard Hughes, one of the event’s five assigned judges, be removed from working any further bouts. Pursuant to UFC’s protocol, neither White nor any other UFC executive possesses such authority. Nevertheless, protocol was breached and Hughes did not work further bouts on Saturday night.
The UFC organization has always been in support of government regulation and oversight. Additionally, the UFC has established a protocol when required to self-regulate events due to the lack of an official athletic commission, federation or other regulatory body. In those instances where UFC holds events in locations without a regulatory body, the UFC’s protocol dictates that the organization’s internal regulators will handle all commission functions independently and without interference by company executives or employees.
The UFC remains committed to maintaining the strictest regulatory environment for competition and vows that no similar breach of protocol will happen again.
Both White and the UFC apologize to Mr. Hughes for calling his professional judgment into question. Hughes has judged more than 25 UFC fight cards and the UFC looks forward to him working on its events again in the future.”
After being the only judge to award Elizabeth Phillips with a (29-28) victory over Milana Dudieva, when one of his fellow judges scored it a resounding 30-27 for Phillips, to kick-off the event, Hughes followed up by being the lone judge to favor Yao Zhikui (30-27) over Royston Wee. The two other judges had Wee winning 29-28.
Hughes was the common denominator in both split decision verdicts and received his demotion immediately after just two fights.