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WEC 47 Referee Jerry Poe - in his own words

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WEC 47 Referee Jerry Poe - in his own words

Jerry Poe – a member of the ELITE MMA Referee community, has been ref’ing MMA fights since 1999, in both Ohio and Indiana. On March 6th, 2010 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, Jerry Poe was assigned to referee the Danny Castillo vs. Anthony Pettis and Deividas Taurosevicius vs. L.C. Davis fights at WEC 47.

In the 2nd Round of the Taurosevicius vs. Davis fight, Taurosevicius kneed Davis in the groin - and the look on Davis’ face left no doubt he was in pain. He also pointed to “the area” and motioned to Poe, but Poe didn’t intervene, saying that he didn’t see the foul, so he couldn’t call it.

In spite of his background and experience, Jerry Poe has since received some flack for failing to stop the fight and give Davis his 5 minutes of recovery time. The question is:  if you don’t see a foul, can you stop the fight, accidental or not? In the Castillo vs. Pettis bout, Castillo bullied Pettis into the cage and landed a hard knee to the groin that doubled Pettis over - but Poe saw this foul, stepped in and stopped the fight to allow Pettis time to recover.

The MMA Referee's Code of Ethics says “I call what I see and only what I see. It is what it is.” and according to Jerry Poe, that’s just what he did.

I talked with Poe in depth about his experience at WEC 47, his background and previous ref’ing experiences for some other MMA promotions, such as Bellator, Phantom Fight Explosion and Iron Tiger Challenge in Ohio.


Though the years of trials and tribulations from competitor to referee, here is my point of view on working the WEC 47, March 6, 2010 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.  It was a great opportunity and exhilarating experience. It was also a great learning experience, something that I can use moving forward in my professional career as a referee.

I arrived at the Arnold Classic Trade Show for the Friday night weigh-ins around noon. I walked around the trade show until I had to check in at the official’s room at 4:00 p.m. to be walked to the center stage for weigh-ins starting at 5:00 p.m. in front of 170,000 people at the trade show.  After the weigh-ins were done, I went backstage and conducted the fighters’ Rules Meeting for the following night’s event. Mr. Reed Harris, the General Manager and Founder of the W.E.C., complimented fellow referee Mark Matheny and myself on conducting a very professional rules meeting. The rules meeting lasted approximately 45 minutes and then we were done for the night. I then attended the amateur fight show that night at another Columbus venue. Ohio is known for running more MMA shows than any other state in the country.

The following day I arrived back at the Arnold Classic trade show at noon. I walked around the trade show until 4:00 p.m., at which time I walked to the venue at Nationwide Arena. I hung around backstage, was checked out by the doctor, received my assignments, and had an official’s meeting at approximately 5:15 p.m. which lasted about thirty minutes. I was in the rotation with three other referees, Kevin Mulhull, Mark Matheny, and Greg Franklin. The assignments were to collect cards, check the fighters as they entered cage side, rest, and then referee the fight itself – always on assignment during the whole show.

I thought the action went well. Although, when I was in the cage in front of 8,500 people watching live, I have to admit it was a little nerve wracking. One fight had an explosive knock out, and I had to dive in to protect the other fighter. During the other fight, I was constantly separating the fighters and encouraging them to fight off the cage and improve their positions.

Our job as a referee is to ensure safety first, to enforce the rules and to keep the fight moving. At the start of each fight, I make sure the fighters understand what is going on, pull them to the center, give the pre-fight expectations, try not to stumble over them, then send them back to their corners and start the fight.

To control the action in the cage, always try to be at 45 or 90 degree angles from the fighters. When on the ground I try to stay up top by their head and try to look for their free hand in case they are tapping. I am constantly moving around, circling to view all angles. You must be confident and in control of the action at all times. I only call what I see; if I don’t see it I don’t call it.

Referees are the most unpopular people in all of sports and you have to have thick skin. Referees are only human, we don’t see everything, but we do our best to catch all infractions. Referees need to be confident in their calls and believe in their abilities.

Be true to your refereeing style, it is what got you to that level and don’t change for the magnitude of the event. Be true to yourself.

In closing, I want to thank the Ohio Athletic Commission, the WEC, and everyone along the way that helped me get this far. Special thanks goes out to Executive Director of the Ohio Athletic Commission, Bernie Profato and all the other inspectors for their hard work and continued support.

To all current and future referees, remember - just do what got you there...

Interestingly, it should be noted the judges scored the fight 29-29, 29-28, 29-28, with a majority decision in favor of Davis, so not calling time for this foul did not affect the outcome of this fight – except maybe it made Davis fight in anger and motivate him even harder to win?

Jerry Poe’s Bio: 
I started in Karate 29 years ago. I have competed in Karate, Sanshou and MMA.  I currently run American Vital Karate, School of Self Defense.  I have competed on two United States teams in Australia, Hungary, Canada, England, Mexico and Russia.  I have earned several National titles, two silver medals and one gold medal at the Word Cup of Martial Arts.  I am also a member of the U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

My refereeing career started in 1999 in Ohio before the Athletic Commission was put in place. I have also refereed in Indiana. I have since been licensed by the Ohio Athletic Commission and have been refereeing for the O.A.C. since. I have refereed in events such as Intimidation Cage Fighting at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, and Bellator at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio, prior to refereeing the WEC 47 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. I am the head referee for Phantom Fight Explosion and Iron Tiger Challenge in Ohio. It was an honor and privilege to get the call from Executive Director, Bernie Profato to work the WEC 47. event.

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 March 2010 23:43
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