Athletic commission and boards are relatively useless when it comes to reviewing things in the fight world. Blatant fence grabbing, fight altering eye pokes and other forms of cheating have persisted and changed outcomes and no amount of appeals change things. Until recently, and that’s a good sign. Recently, two blatant miscalls have been reversed and this could be a change of things to come in the commissions taking the fairness of combat sports in their own hands.
Fabricio Werdum was duped in his PFL debut against Renan Ferreira. Werdum had Ferreira in a triangle and the fight was just about finished. Ferreira did what’s known as a “Brazilian tap,” or a tap on the shoulder to make you think the fight is over and you let your grip go. The ref didn’t call the fight, however, and Werdum ended up getting finished later in the round. It’s a rookie mistake by someone who is a former UFC champion. But the athletic commission reviewed the tape and said, “No dice, it’s a no contest.”
Another recent action was the disqualification of Eddie Alvarez last April in ONE Championship. Alvarez grazed the back of his opponent’s head and the referee called the fight off and initially a loss for Alvarez. In this instance because there is no athletic commission where the card was held, it was the promotion that stepped in and reviewed the tape and called what is basically flopping, and turned it to a no contest.
Athletic commission taking action: much needed in MMA
Mixed martial arts has been a land of “it happened, move on.” Fighters have had no recourse on bad calls with the commissions focusing on cleaning up the sport with performance enhancing drugs. They have fallen short when it came to enforcing the actual rules of the sport. But, this recent trend shows that the athletic commission of where a fight is staged is turning their attention to the actual rules of in fight competition.
We’re all human and referees Justin Brown and Keith Peterson, the two refs in the Alvarez and Werdum cases from earlier, cannot see everything. With a commission stepping in to make sure these wrong calls are corrected really takes the sport to a more professional level.
We’ve seen NBA and NFL officials change calls both in and after games. Putting more resources in the athletic commission’s hands and making the sport more fair is a great thing for the sport of mixed martial arts. Fans want to see a good product that they can follow the rules along with. When there are inconsistent rules, flopping, and blatant cheating, it takes away the enjoyment of the sport. It can even harm the reputation by making new fans believe it’s a rigged sport and not worth watching.
An athletic commission making changes to outcomes, especially when they’re egregious as these two examples is a step in the right direction. Now, if we can only figure out a way to properly implement instant replay…
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it. Also, Cowboy Cerrone is the GOAT.