When it comes to making mistakes, no referee has faced more heat from the MMA community than Steve Mazzagatti.
During an appearance on the "Opie and Anthony Show" (via MMAFighting.com), White called Mazzagatti "the worst ref in the history of any fight business." On ESPN's MMA Live (via Fightline.com), Florian claimed Mazzagatti was slow at stopping fights, and he could use a pair of glasses. The mere sight of Mazzagatti enraged Lesnar to the point of punching a door in.
As with any sport, it's tough enough defeating an opponent, but things become even more aggravating when an official makes a crucial mistake that decides the outcome.
This is exactly what happened to Anthony Johnson in his bout with Kevin Burns at UFC Fight Night 14.
Johnson was the victim of an accidental eye poke that immediately sent him crashing to the canvas and writhing in pain. Unfortunately, Mazzagatti was in a bad position, and instead of an eye poke, he thought Burns dropped Johnson with a clean uppercut. A halt was called to the action, and the fight was officially ruled as a TKO stoppage for Burns.
During an appearance on Inside MMA, Mazzagatti admitted to making a mistake and feeling responsible for the loss on Johnson's record that took place nearly five years ago:
"It looked to me like he got hit with an uppercut. He went back, grabbed his face and hit the ground. Later on, we found out it was clear as day an eye poke. We didn't have the instant replay at the time...so one of those losses on Anthony's career was due to my bad call."
Referees aren't any less human than professional athletes.
They train and hone their skills to complete their tasks to the best of their abilities, but as human beings, they are bound to make mistakes from time to time.
The Johnson bout was unfortunate, but it did play a role in the Nevada State Athletic Commission adopting the use of instant replay.
Mazzagatti is thankful for an opportunity to go back and rectify the situation should a mistake like this ever rise again:
"I had to stick by my decision. Once you make that call, the fight's over, he rolls over and says, 'I got poked in the eye,' I already made the call. Now, I do have the ability to go back and say, 'Wow, he did get poked in the eye.' I'm turning this loss into a disqualification in Anthony's favor."