By Zach Arnold | June 20, 2013
“Steve Mazzagatti: A danger to all fighters?”
That was the blaring headline from a two-minute segment on the UFC Tonight show that aired on Tuesday on Fuel TV. It was Chael Sonnen and Kenny Florian talking about Steve Mazzagatti as a referee in reference to his performance during the Josh Burkman/Jon Fitch fight last week in Vegas. Burkman choked out Fitch and let go of the choke so that Mazzagatti would then stop the fight.
Dana White went nuts about Mazzagatti while he was in Winnipeg and it led to Keith Kizer going after Dana in the press after Dana said that Kizer would promote Mazzagatti to the Anderson Silva/Chris Weidman fight in order to spite everyone.
Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the commission said that he’s surprised this was a story, saying in this instance, he didn’t even see it as a referee judgment call, good or bad.
Kizer compared the sudden choke out to a one punch knockout in boxing where the fighter lands the punch, knocks the guy out, the opponent stops on his own volition, and the ref sees the damage and waves it off.
“Dana’s a good guy,” said Kizer. “Very few people care about other people as much as Dana. But you’ve heard what he’s said about former fighters, former employees, even fighters in his organization. Even Jon Jones. He likes to put people down, whether rightly or wrongly. It’s an ego thing. We all have egos. I think it’s wrong when people lie and you can make your own conclusions on Dana.”
During the UFC Tonight segment, Florian just dumped all over Mazzagatti. It was a burial. Unlike most sports programs where referees are criticized for their poor performance, the UFC Tonight segment basically made Mazzagatti out to be a threat to the health & safety of fighters who step into the cage with him. It came across as a really personal attack that was ordered by UFC management. In many ways, it reminded me of Vince McMahon. McMahon has had some legendary grudges over the years and has used his television platforms to live out his revenge. His two most famous cases involved two controversial figures, sports owner giant Stan Kroenke and famous conservative watchdog Brent Bozell. Kroenke was involved in a booking mishap of the Pepsi Center in 2009 regarding the Denver Nuggets and a playoff basketball game. The playoff game pushed WWE’s booking out of the venue and so McMahon ended up running the Staples Center in Los Angeles to spite the Denver faithful. He went so far as to use the Lakers famous announcer, Lawrence Tanter, to work the RAW show in which McMahon beat up a fake Stan Kroenke and had a multi-man tag match where the heels wore Denver Nuggets jerseys while the babyfaces wore Laker jerseys.
McMahon had a famous feud with Brent Bozell of the Parents Television Council in 2000 and created an obnoxious heel group called Right to Censor in protest.
Dana and Lorenzo’s crusade against Steve Mazzagatti is now being carried out on their media platforms. Their behavior is starting to resemble that of when McMahon holds a grudge against someone. It can go over the top. Tito, anyone?
Apparently, someone at Fox Sports watched what was going on and wanted to make the UFC Tonight segment on Mazzagatti disappear as fast as Lloyd Irvin wishes his $1 million USD lien from Uncle Sam would vanish.