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The Best Seat In the House Can Be the Most Costly

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Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 7.03.37 PMWhat’s it worth to you for the best seat in the house for a pay-per-view, blockbuster MMA event? Hundreds? Thousands? Maybe you know somebody who knows somebody, and you sidesaddle a spot with the timekeeper? The only vantage of greater value would be to cross the threshold of the fencing-an arm’s reach from the mixed martial artists featured under the bright lights: the referee. Marc Goddard, an MMA referee who has officiated marquee match-ups that may have lulled lesser-qualified officials into a state of reclining their La-Z-Boy, only to leap for joy in conjunction with the millions of viewers around the world – losing sight of the immensity at hand: careers, health, or even upholding the legitimacy and professionalism of MMA as a sport. It was interesting to explore this idea with Goddard when he appeared as a special guest on Jon and Mike’s MMA Corner.

Goddard’s introduction to the trials and tribulations of refereeing should conjure up doubts for those who may be sitting at their desk and filling out an application for such a line of work,

“The referee: You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. It’s not a job for everyone.”

Ambiguity opens the door of possibility for others who definitely should keep it slammed shut. MMA fans nestle into their living room couches and espouse claims that the referee’s job is one-size fits all; it’s not that hard, but Goddard countered,

“You’ve got to distinguish yourself from that [the fight] and the reality of what you do. You’re in the firing line, and that’s the nature of the job.”

Goddard doesn’t shy away from the ridicule he opens himself up to while officiating professional athletes; he admitted,

“I think it comes down to officials getting the critique. That’s just the nature of the beast; it’s par for the course.”

There’s no gray in the matter when Goddard is draped head-to-toe in black: shoes, pants, shirt, latex gloves-time to smash it up,

“If you can’t handle it, then you are definitely in the wrong job. The more experience you get, the older you get, the higher profile you get, you just learn to roll with it because when it’s good it’s good. I’m not going to say when it’s bad it’s bad because, most of the time, when people are saying it’s bad, it’s a perception of bad; 90% of the people don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about anyway.”

Before tracking down Goddard to trade season tickets with him that read: “Row Octagon,” Goddard detailed the mindset and abilities prerequisite to acting as the last protective barrier between two trained assassins,

“You have to be able to read a fight. It either comes to you, or it doesn’t. If somebody is going to sweep and go for a belly-down armbar, you need to know which way to go. If you need to start thinking about it, that’s when mistakes will occur, and that’s when you’ll start second-guessing. When you’re referee, you are watching things in a peripheral sense; you’re looking at everything. There’s a natural flow, and if you’re just watching, essentially waiting for a violation to step in; that’s your job. It sounds pretty simple. In principle, it is, but people try to make it more difficult that it is.”

Some Referees Just Don’t Have It

If the criteria spelled out as clear as a “do not remove” tag on your favorite chair doesn’t resonate as something comprehensible, please locate the nearest latch on the cage’s door and exit immediately. The responsibilities of an MMA referee, or any combat sport’s official, are enormous, to say the least, yet some referees, like Steve Mazzagatti, routinely spot themselves in positions of scrutiny. Coincidence? Likely not.

In a recent contest for World Series of Fighting (WSOF) gold at WSOF 22, Mazzagatti was seated front and center, as he was slated to enforce the rules of the Decagon in a welterweight title fight between Jake Shields (31-8-1 1NC) and Rousimar Palhares (18-6-0). Walking into the championship bout, there was no secret of the potential for Palhares to play the role of a dirty fighter, yet this concept was lost in the folds of the beach chair that Mazzagatti called this fight from. Not only were claims of eye-raking substantiated with photos such as those posted below,

but his positioning on the canvas when Palhares rolled Shields into a Kimura locked up so tightly that the viewers at home tapped,

which raised question marks that were bolded in a series of three with exclamation points acting as spacers (or at least that’s what stood out on Twitter).

Shortly after his losing efforts against Palhares, Shields sat down with Michael Placencia, better known as Fight Mike MMA, to project his point of view on the performance of Mazzagatti while officiating that night,

“Mazzagatti is completely clueless. I was obviously really pissed with him after the fight; I was even yelling at him during the fight. Palhares wasn’t just kind of gouging, he was taking his thumb and sticking it in my eye. I was telling Mazzagatti, who was right next to it. He just didn’t see it and kept ignoring them. Finally, he warned him. Then, he warned him again and told him he was going to take a point away; warned him again and didn’t take a point away. Maybe he’s not a bad guy, but he’s not competent at being a ref.”

Watch Fight Mike MMA’s sit-down with Shields for yourself:

WSOF 22 was not the only questionable decision by Mazzagatti. Other examples include:

Controversy swirled at UFC 81 when Mazzagatti deducted a point from Brock Lesnar for perceived shots to the back of the head of Frank Mir. After the point deduction and restart in action, the new positioning propelled Mir into an advantageous position, hence leading to his kneebar victory. Since you’re seated and reading, check out the interview conducted by MMA Junkie (2008) with Mazzagatti to explore such a questionable decision:

http://mmajunkie.com/2008/02/referee-steve-mazzagatti-discusses-lesnar-mir-fight-an-mmajunkiecom-interview

Justified or not, an inability to call the fight correctly collectively spawns desires to kick the chair out from underneath Mazzagatti.

A similar act of haste proved arguable during The Ultimate Fighter: Season 19. Mazzagatti believed Roger Zapata delivered illegal elbows to the back of Ian Stephens’ head. Without warning, Mazzagatti leapt in and began pilfering points. Dana White, President of the UFC, mirrored most MMA fans who endure a Mazzagatti led dance: fuming out of the room:

What Do We Do About Poor Refereeing?

Goddard is no magician, though referees who build a track record of poor quality and lacking ability are those he’d choose to lose their best seat in the house. He claimed,

“There’s a magic word there, though it’s not a magic word; it’s real, and it’s called acceptance. It’s about having that acceptance, and you can attribute that to anything you do. Have an ambition, have a goal to have an end game; that’s what fighters do. If it’s not for you, you’re going to find out quite quick.”

Mazzagatti is far from a new kid on the block, and a ref with his reputation may need the decision made for them. Goddard continued,

“I can’t explain the very real pressure officials are under. That’s what we’re there to do, and that’s what we’re paid for.”

Could it be that these refs are enjoying their seats too much, removing their official’s patch and shoving their fist into the cavity of a giant foam finger? MMA’s excitement fans the flames of pandemonium on a nearly round-by-round basis; Goddard can tease the idea of being consumed by either the red or blue corner, even needing pause on his own stool in that minute between rounds, but his experience roots him in the middle of the action. Relaxed on the podcast, he allowed a fraction of his fanfare to escape,

 “You can sense the occasion.”

Goddard rocked all the listeners in his lap, and he opened his referee scrapbook to the page labeled: masochism. The page was dated March 3, 2013, for a matchup between “The All-American” Brian Stann versus Wanderlei “The Axe Murder” Silva at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. He recalled,

“It’s funny because I remember one of the events I was refereeing in Japan a couple of years ago, and it was Brian Stann and Wanderlei Silva.”

Hosts Jon and Mike collectively hooted in anticipation of Goddard’s recollection of the middleweight tilt. Here’s why:

“Your reaction says it all, and that’s kind of how I was feeling. That was just all out violence; it was a fight in its truest sense. I’m watching it go down in front of me, and, of course, I get a sense of at one point wanting to stand back and just start clapping. Obviously, you just stay in the moment. You’re in another place, in a forgotten place, and that’s the problem with a lot of referees or would be officials; they can’t detach. They get caught looking.”

When it comes to the referee game, Goddard demonstrated he is more than willing to share a seat next to you and pass along his knowledge, but MMA’s fans and fighters assuredly would always prefer a carbon copy of Goddard in the driver’s seat, acting as the third man in the ring.

 

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UFC looks for undefeated fighters for the next season of TUF

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As the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter comes to a close in a few weeks, UFC has set tryouts for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter on December 12th but there is a catch, participates must hold an undefeated record.

Titled The Ultimate Fighter 27: Battle of the Undefeated, the next installment of TUF will be looking for male fighters with an undefeated record with a minimum of 3-0 to apply for the show. The casting call asks for featherweights and welterweights but in the early stages of tryouts, a weight class will be decided later in the process.

Fighters must be aged between 21 – 34 and will grapple and light spar in front of UFC matchmakers and must be prepared to stay in Vegas until December 16th.

It is unknown what the future of TUF will be after the TV deal with FOX ends next year but the show has been a success for the company and many fighters to emerge from The Ultimate Fighter have become champion including current interim Lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas coming from past seasons of the show.

This will be the third time in a row that a gimmick will be added to the show that has been on the decline in the ratings in recent years but yet to use only undefeated fighters. An undefeated streak can be one of the most prestigious records to keep in mixed martial arts with the wins and losses being so vital in a fighters career.

Who will keep their zero? Who will be the next Ultimate Fighter? Who will be the coaches?

These questions will be answered when the new season of TUF begins shooting in January and the show premiering later in the year.

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Tom Gallicchio on UFC Release “It’s Been a Dream of Mine to Fight in KSW”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest spoke to TUF 22 and 25 season competitor Tom Gallicchio about being cut from the UFC, and potential promotions that he could sign for in the future.

Gallicchio (19-10) signed for the UFC after reaching the semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 25. Losing to James Krause in his debut, “Da Tank” was informed earlier this month that the UFC had parted ways with him.


Q: Before we jump into the whole free agency stuff, talk me through how the UFC broke the news that they were going to release you?

I thought I was going to have another fight, this time at lightweight. I got a letter dated July 7th, saying they were going to keep me, I received it in September. I was getting emails to update my USADA, I never got a cut letter and I got tested by USADA on October 24th. I was hoping to fight sometime in January or February, then they broke the news to me that they need to make a room for new talent.

Q: You made your UFC debut against James Krause in July, then 4 months down the line, they cut you. How surprised were you at this somewhat out of the blue decision?

I’m thankful for my opportunity in the UFC and the fact that they gave me another shot, but it was definitely surprising how it happened.  They released a newsletter in September welcoming Jesse (Taylor) Dhiego (Lima) and myself into the UFC, all signs pointed towards another fight. Hearing that I was cut was just heartbreaking.

Q: Have any talks started with a new promotion. I saw you name a few on Twitter, the likes of  Bellator, BAMMA, KSW and ACB. Who do you see yourself signing for?

I would love to compete in any of those! A couple of them hit me up, one of which I am very happy to talk with. Since they came out, It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW. They’re taking care of their fighters, I would love to fight for them. I want to travel, I want to see the world, I want to fight. I’ve got a lot of fans overseas and I want to give them a show.

It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW.

Q: Your long time friend Jesse Taylor was victorious in the TUF 25 Finale, but he has since accepted a 1-year ban for failing a USADA test. What is your take on this given how close you two are?

I know Jesse is not a juicer, I’ve known him ever since I came down to (Team) Quest. It’s probably come from some supplement that he’s taking, it sucks for him. I think he went into a little bit of panic mode, he could have done a better job of handling it.

I don’t take supplements, if there was a way, I’d still keep myself in the USADA pool just because I believe in a clean sport. I think it’s important we keep the sport clean and if we’re cleaning up the supplement companies then good, because no one else is.

Where would you look to see Tom fight next? Let us know below!

 

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IMMAF

2017 IMMAF World Championships: Finals fixtures

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After 4 days of non stop action from Monday to Thursday we have our final 14 bouts to determine the 2017 IMMAF World Champions. Most of these fighters have fought four times for their slot  in the final and tomorrow will be their chance to finish off what has been a fantastic week of fights.

Kicking off the action tomorrow will be Michele Oliveira vs. Danni Neilan. Both women have looked extremely impressive in their bouts so far, Oliveira has spent less time in the cage than her opponent after finishing two of her fights. Neilan is the Irish teams last chance of a gold in this competition and comes into this after a war of a last fight. She is constantly pressuring and has solid striking with incredible ground and pound from any position on top.

Joel Aronlainen came down to featherweight after testing the water at lightweight in the European Championships. His lanky build and impressive overall skill set has seen him pick up 3 finishes in the competition so far. His opponent Delyan Georgiev is undefeated and will be a tough challenge for him. Georgiev has dominated the featherweight division at amateur, his gold medal at the European Championships could now lead to him becoming a world champion if he continues to perform like we’re used to seeing him do.

At 155lbs, Vitali Andruhovich will take on top American prospect Quintin Thomas for the gold. Andruhovich has been on the right side of two very close split decisions in this tournament so far. His controversial win over Irishman Ciaran Clarke had many people scratching their heads at the decision. He now has the chance to prove himself with a win against Quintin Thomas. Thomas is the UMMAF National Champion and a very experienced amateur fighter. Racking up 13 wins he has been a dominant fighter in most of his fights, his sole losses coming from sustaining an injury and a split decision loss.

For the Middleweight medal we have a battle of the Nordic fighters. Iceland’s Bjorn Lukas Haraldsson has looked phenomenal in his fights so far, finishing each and everyone inside a round. The Mjolnir fighter has been to many the highlight of the tournament, but has a tough task a head of him in Laallam who’s had half the number of fights in this tournament and looked impressive in both.

Bahrain’s last hope for a medal lies in the hand of Light Heavyweight finisher Murtaza Talha Ali. Ali has finished all four of his bouts so far, 3 via TKO/KO and his last being by way of submission. Standing in his way of gold will be Pavel Pahomenko from Belarus who’s proven to be lethal with submissions once an opportunity arises scoring two submission wins inside the first round.

Here is the full fixture list for the finals tomorrow:

  • Michele Oliveira  vs.  Danni Neilan 125 lbs
  • Anna Astvik  vs.  Hannah Dawson 115 lbs
  • Chamia Chabbi  vs.  Manon Fiorot 135 lbs
  • C. McCrudden  vs.  Fabiana Giampà 145 lbs
  • Gase Sanita  vs.  Kaycee Blake 155 lbs
  • Yernaz Mussabek  vs.  Serdar Atlas 125 lbs
  • Gamzat Magomedov  vs.  O. Moldagaliyev 135 lbs
  • Joel Arolainen  vs.  Delyan Georgiev 145 lbs
  • V. Andruhovich  vs.  Quitin Thomas 155 lbs
  • Sola Axel  vs.  Benjamin Bennett 170 lbs
  • B. Haraldsson  vs.  Khaled Laallam 185 lbs
  • Pavel Pahomenko  vs.  Murtaza Talha Ali 205 lbs
  • Irman Smajic  vs.  Lev Vins 265 lbs
  • Atanas Krastanov  vs.  Marcin Kalata 300 lbs
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