Officiating in mixed martial arts (MMA) is always challenged, criticized and talked about at length before, during and after a huge fight card takes place.
Last Saturday night (Oct. 19, 2013) was an epic night of fights with tons of action, but in reality, it was no different from any other fight card, as far as scrutiny of referees and judges goes. Once again front and center at the post-fight activities, UFC president Dana White shared his referee gripes from UFC 166 with members of the media.
Watch the video here.
The official who was panned the most was referee Jay Stafin, who was responsible for two late stoppages last night: one that saw T.J. Waldburger leave on a stretcher after being hit with several late punches from Adlan Amagov, the other being heavyweight Shawn Jordan, who was able to leave using all his faculties, after taking several strikes from Gabriel Gonzaga that could have been avoided.
"That dude was terrible," White said to reporters post-fight, referring to Stafin. "He was terrible. Always in the wrong position."
During the Facebook prelims, Waldburger was already out while Adlan Amagov was still hitting him with unnecessary punches, before Stafin stopped the fight. Something that the UFC president said made him "sick."
"Whenever a guy gets knocked out, especially when, especially when a guy takes more punches than he should, it always freaks me out," White explained. "The one punch knocks you out, and then for him to take more punishment after that when he is out, I go fucking crazy man. I hate it. It makes me crazy."
"There's only been a couple times that I... You guys probably didn't see you were on the other side, but I jumped up and I was screaming at that fucking referee tonight, screaming at him. Do your fucking job. Get your skinny ass in there and stop that fucking fight when this guy is out cold and getting hit. I hate it so bad it makes me sick."
Luckily, Waldburger suffered no further damage as White broke the good news at the beginning of the post-fight presser that "all of his tests came back negative. He is fine. He was discharged, went to dinner and he is good."
Stafins next late blunder came on the main card, when this time it was Shawn Jordan who was on the receiving end of late punches by Gabriel Gonzaga after being knocked out (watch the video).
"Six extra punches he took to the face, Jordan did," White complained.
"That second round was every hard to score. It was razor thin," White explained. "Either way, that fight could've gone either way. I'm not like ‘Oh my god how the hell did they give that fight to Jessica Eye?' and if Kaufman won I wouldn't been like ‘Holy shit this is ridiculous.' I think that second round was so close that it could've gone either way."
This was all definitely far from unusual as far as UFC post-fight press conferences and scrums go, however, while the direction of White's ire was expectedly aimed at a referee who was appointed by the Texas Department of Licensing and regulation for his first-ever UFC card, White also took umbrage with a referee he usually holds in high regard, Herb Dean.
Dean, of course, was the arbiter of the main event between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos. A fight that White said "should've been stopped in the third."
White clearly felt that when Velasquez had Dos Santos down in the third and was wailing away on him, Dean should have halted the action.
"If you watch the third round again when he's getting hit, his arms are out," White said. "He's not defending himself. He doesn't have his hands up. He's out."
Watch the full video highlights here.
"Even the best have bad nights," White said, about the man he usually refers to as the best in the business. Dean at one point stepped in and touched Velasquez as if he was about to stop it, but then had a case of buyer's remorse and didn't. That was an action that if done by any other referee, would've been heavily criticized.
Dean did correctly halt the bout with a little over a minute left in the fourth, for the cageside doctor to check the nasty cut that opened up over Dos Santos' right eye.
Upon inspection, the doctor allowed the round to continue. Another doctor allowed the fight to head into the fifth round after checking the wound once again between rounds. Based on the beating he was already suffering, coupled with the visible damage to his face, White felt that was more than enough to call it a day.
He's not the only one.
"There's no need for a young, talented guy to take that kind of punishment when he's out on his feet," White said. "I was kind of hoping somebody was going to throw the towel in or the ref would stop it, or the doctor was going to stop it. One eye was closed, and the other was cut wide open. He was hurt."
Stafin was late in stopping two of his fights as an official working his first UFC card, but it's veteran referee Dean, that White feels could've prevented an extra round and a half of damage to Dos Santos had he stopped it in the third.
"If you looked at the fight, it ended in the fifth," White said. "That guy took seven, eight minutes more punishment that he didn't need to take until it ended. That's seven or eight minutes, I don't know man. I just don't like it."
For full UFC 166 results and live play-by-play click here. To see more results and fallout from "Velasquez vs. Dos Santos 3," including highlights, videos, reactions and more, check out our live UFC 166 story stream by clicking here.