This article was originally published in portuguese during the UFC 200 week.
“I prefer any other referee than him.” It was like this who Jones “Bones” Jones reacted to the choice of John McCarthy as referee in his fight against Daniel Cormier for the unification of the Light Heavyweight belt in the UFC 200. Know by fans as “Big John”, McCarthy has a exceptional career, and was one of the responsible for unifying the rules of the sport and continues to referee since the first Ultimate Fighting. If Jones does his homework he should have a problem with the referee but if the fight goes to the final-round hear we could have a good problem. If anything should make John more afraid than Big John it is the judge’s table Sal D’Amato!
That said, Bob Bennett spoke on this site MMAnia. “This morning (July 28th) at 8:18 I received an e-mail from Mr. Kawa of the Jones ´camp, expressing their concern about John McCarthy being referee of the fight. Surely I analyze his worries about the referee and respected the comments he made but I don´t think it is significant enough to change my recommendation”, said the Executive Director of the Athletic Commission of Nevada, responsible for the rules of the game.
In social networks Jones didn´t present his real arguments, only saying that something bad could happen. “It´s a mixture of many things over the years. The energy [for example], I feel that we don’t have a good energy. Some things have accumulated which happened during some fights and personal interactions. I simply feel he doesn´t need anything more against me, I´m already facing a great fighter like DC” explains Jones. In fact Jones don´t should be worried with John MacCarthy. In his career as referee few big mistakes were made and in the fights that Big John participated he was successful in all of them: against Lyoto Machida (in UFC 140), Victor Belfort (UFC 152) and Alexander Gustafsson (UFC 165).
One factor should be seen with a lot of attention, the choice of the three table referees – who marked the points and judge the results of the fight in case there is no definition: Derek Cleary, Glenn Trowbridge e Sal D’Amato. This last name is not strange for any attentive fan. Sal D´Amato was involved in many controversial fights over the last few years, you only need to google his name to see history of then. All make possible for the spectator mistrust the decisions made by these table-referees figures so obscure that is difficult to find any type of information about this on the internet. It´s seens that some don´t even exist. Even though they stay in strategic positions around the octagon, we can hardly see their faces.
Sal D´Amato is one of the must selected referees to judge the fights, having worked in Ultimate Fighter events in all over the world, including Brazil. In 2013 in all of the fights he worked which went to the last round, about 12.5% were considered controversial. To be more specific look at the case of some of this fights in all his decisions influenced the winner were at least controversial.
In 2015 the fight named “Robbery of the Year” by the site Sherdog.com: Bedel Dariush vs. Michael Johnson in UFC Fight Night had D´Amato as responsible for the final decision. “I already knew that this would happen. I was in the cage and looked at Bruce Buffer and Herb Dean and they were reading the cards and their expressions spoke for than selves. Everybody knew that a won that fight. I saw their faces. I think Bruce Buffer looked confused reading the card, he had to check again with the judges. I don’t know if they heard me when I said: Wow, they gave him the slip decision?!” said Johnson to the MMAJunkie.com.
Decisions like this are not rare ad because of this Dana White always says: don’t leave the decision in the hands of the judges. The phrase is so famous that you can see this on the doors of the changing rooms of the TUF (The Ultimate Fighter). The controversy about the mistakes of the referees cause debates in many sports, subjects for the media and even jokes with friends. This is all normal, it´s part of being human, we are all susceptible to mistakes. Now that many sports have started to use more technology to help not to make so many mistakes, the table-referees of UFC and MMA event should have cameras at all possible angles for a good decision. But the rules to choose the referees should be make as clear as possible so there won´t be any doubt about the legitimacy of the sport. Posluta.com tried to contact Bob Bennett, director of Nevada Athletic Commission, but his secretary inform us that the Mr. Bennett was out of this office for one week.