The slipperiness of UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner almost convinces me that he has Georges St. Pierre’s cornermen looking after him. He has taken the tried and true “lack of a legal remedy… eeeh what can ya do?” standpoint to prevent overturning the result of last Saturday’s Erick Silva vs. Carlo Prater fight. Evidently, referee Mario Yamasaki’s verbal warning and instantaneous determination that the strikes were illegal forbids the UFC for all eternity from changing the disqualification of Silva to a no contest:
“Based on the referee’s verbal warnings and his determination that the blows were intentional and a disqualifying foul, this is not the type of decision that can be reviewed. Therefore, the decision stands,” wrote Ratner.
“Recently, Zuffa has decided to implement the use of instant replay at all international events that are self-regulated, and to encourage all regulators to consider the feasibility and effectiveness of instant replay in the sport of MMA. While instant replay would not have reversed the call in the Silva-Prater bout, we believe that it could be valuable to referees and the sport in the future.”
Gee, with that kind of circumlocution, we might almost think that the guy making the UFC’s decision here used to be on a state athletic commission somewhere. We have to realize the gravity of setting bad precedents and all that other responsible garbage, but incidents like the Silva disqualification basically Mike Whitehead our sensibilities, whereas the abstract dangers associated with righting wrongs after the fact are as mythical as the Boogeyman (not Dean Lister). If the NFL can change what’s reviewable by instant replay, then the UFC should take the opportunity to create review rules that make sense when there is NO ATHLETIC COMMISSION where the fight happened.
Most UFC events happen in states where athletic commissions run the show, so who knows when there will be another golden opportunity for the UFC to take the lead on this? If Yamasaki initially said that it was an intentional, continuous foul for which Silva disregarded a warning, but then replay reveals that only one punch landed to the Liddellhawk zone, something just doesn’t add up. There should be some method to resolve issues like this, because it won’t be the last time it happens.
The UFC also needs to realize that in addition to instant replay, there should be some type of mechanism for overturning incorrect results after the fact. If a fighter can have a submission win nullified for smoking weed in Nevada, then this should be fixable. With the UFC acting as the sanctioning body in every other way when there is no local athletic commission at an event’s location, they should be willing to declare a botched fight a no contest, accusations of Gary Shaw-like behavior be damned.
Regulators (Marc Ratner included) should realize that referees are just as fallible as the rest of us, even when the rest of us are so drunk that we urinate all over ourselves and others. Even a referee who’s normally solid, like Yamasaki, can combine with his brother to muck up nearly half the fights on a card. Trying to find another other instance where a TKO that ended with strikes in turtle position contained at least one questionable strike is like trying to find instances of Dana White swearing. So hopefully we will see some intervention to enforce consistency in the future.