On July 3rd, not only will heavyweight champions Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin embark on the biggest moment in their careers, but referee Josh Rosenthal will as well. Yesterday, Rosenthal was awarded officiating duties for the main event at UFC 116, “The Biggest Battle in Heavyweight History.”
According to Sherdog.com, Rosenthal was one of four referees nominated for the monstrous assignment, along with tenured officials Mario Yamasaki, Steve Mazzagatti and Herb Dean – who is widely considered as the best in the business now that legendary “Big” John McCarthy appears to be blackballed.
Keith Kizer, executive director for the Nevada State Athletic Commission, announced Wednesday that Rosenthal unanimously won the vote and will serve as the third man inside the Octagon when Lesnar and Carwin collide.
While most refereeing assignments rarely get any pub, this could be a watershed event for the champs and the organization, so it’s understandable why nothing is being left to chance. Lesnar’s agent, David Olsen, and UFC attorney Michael Mersch separately voiced their objections to the NSAC regarding Mazzagatti’s qualifications to handle the blockbuster showdown.
Team Lesnar believes Mazzagatti displayed “at least a perception of bias among the public” when he officiated Lesnar’s unsuccessful Octagon debut against veteran Frank Mir at UFC 81.
During the February 2008 bout, Mazzagatti stopped Lesnar mid-attack to issue him a point deduction for punching a grounded Mir in the back of his dome. The fight was subsequently re-started in an unfavorable standup position, as Mir went on to take a 1stRound submission.
Olsen had previously objected to Mazzagatti refereeing his client’s mulligan with Mir at UFC 100 in July 2009. Dean was assigned officiating duties that night, however it wasn’t because of Team Lesnar’s request.
Hopefully, now and when Bruce Buffer announces him as ref inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, will be the only times Rosentahal’s name is mentioned. The sign of a great referee is one that is hardly ever noticed.
FYI – The Commission also announced on Wednesday that Adelaide Byrd, Glenn Trowbridge and Tony Weeks will be the judges sitting Octagon-side scoring the entire fight card.