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Referee Steve Mazzagatti insists all is well despite recent criticism

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Referee Steve Mazzagatti insists all is well despite recent criticism

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Jan 10, 2009 at 5:00 pm ET

According to John Morgan of mmajunkie.com, "Judging by the fall-out from December's "UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008," longtime referee Steve Mazzagatti did not have his best performance.

A perceived slow response to end both the Cheick Kongo vs. Mostapha al Turk and Rashad Evans vs. Forrest Griffin bouts led UFC President Dana White to say Mazzagatti was "a nice guy, but he's not a referee," at the post-event press conference.

The even-keeled Mazzagatti recently told MMAjunkie.com (http://www.mmajunkie.com/) he wasn't even aware White was upset.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Mazzagatti said.

In both cases, there was no doubt as to the winner of the bout. The concern expressed from White stemmed from the amount of uncontested shots al Turk and Griffin were allowed to take after the outcome of the bout had been unquestionably determined.

And White wasn't the only one critical of Mazzagatti's stoppages. UFC lightweight contender Kenny Florian also made his opinion known on a recent episode of ESPN.com's ESPN Live.

"I think someone should have gotten [Mazzagatti] glasses for Christmas," Florian said. "I'll be honest, he really has been late with a lot of his calls, and it has been a consistent thing with him."

While the public outcry may be predominantly negative, the only opinion that truly matters is that of his employer, the Nevada State Athletic Commission. And Mazzagatti said that relationship is doing just fine.

"The commission is happy with my performance," Mazzagatti said. "Enforcing the rules isn't always going to be popular. I pride myself on trying to enforce the rules. That's what it's all about."

The NSAC appoints referees to all bouts under their jurisdiction. So while White may publicly voice his disapproval of Mazzagatti's performance, it is ultimately up to NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer to decide where the embattled referee will work.

Attempts to reach Kizer for comment on Mazzagatti's stature were unsuccessful.

As for Mazzagatti, he has no problem returning to officiate another UFC bout, despite all the criticism.

"Not at all," Mazzagatti said.

John Morgan is the lead staff reporter for MMAjunkie.com.

 
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