Sports need them; but for years we have loved to hate them. Generally we hate the referees because our team is losing and we need someone to blame, or there is a line call that doesn’t go our way, but there are also the occasions where they make terrible decisions to ruin games or more contextually appropriate for this blog, fights.
Now I understand how tough it must be to referee a fight in front of thousands of fans on a card promoted by the biggest MMA brand on the planet, however their being payed to do a job and as such nothing short of perfection is expected.
So that brings me to UFC 159 and one Kevin Mulhall. Ovince St. Preux and Gian Villante where in the midst of a decent battle that Gian was starting to get on top of due to the fatigue factor setting in on Ovince, when all of a sudden there was an unintentional eye poke. Kevin Mulhall asked Gian how he was to which he replied, “I can’t see” – now this is pretty normal after just being poked in the eye. Without clarification Mulhall called the fight off on the basis that Gian was basically blind!
Now I know the referees are there to protect the fighters and the fighters best interest must be at the forefront but surely a follow up question would have been appropriate here; maybe along the lines of ‘lets let the doctor have a look’ or even better ‘take a minute and see if your vision improves’. But no, Mulhall waved the fight off and cost Gian a probable victory in the UFC.
To some it’s a case of bad luck and he will get another shot; but that’s only the top layer. Eight week camp, weight cut and time away from loved ones equates to a poke in the eye and majority technical decision loss.
Now I respect the referees and the job that they do, but when confronted with a similar scenario in the future please let common sense prevail and take a few seconds to consider the factors before jumping into an illogical decision.