UFC, Lesnar Rep Request Mazzagatti’s Exclusion from July 3 Title Bout
By: Loretta Hunt Jun 9, 2010
Josh Rosenthal will referee the heavyweight unification bout
between champions Brock
Lesnar and Shane
Carwin at UFC 116 on July 3 in Las Vegas. The Nevada State
Athletic Commission voted unanimously for Rosenthal’s assignment
following his nomination by executive director Keith Kizer during a
public meeting held on Wednesday.
Rosenthal was one of four referees identified as available for the
assignment, along with tenured officials Herb Dean,
Mario Yamasaki and Steve Mazzagatti.
Lesnar’s agent, David Olsen, and UFC attorney Michael Mersch
separately voiced their objections to the Las Vegas-based
Mazzagatti receiving consideration for the assignment prior to
Kizer’s nomination and the vote.
Olsen said he and his client believed there was “at least a
perception of bias among the public” following Mazzagatti’s
officiating of a bout between Lesnar and Frank Mir at
UFC 81 in February 2008.
During that bout, Mazzagatti halted Lesnar mid-attack to issue him
a point deduction for punching a grounded Mir in the back of the
head. The bout was subsequently re-started in the standing position
and Mir went on to win with a first-round submission.
Citing Mazzagatti’s “controversial decision,” along with public
comments the referee had made in the press afterward pointing to an
“actual bias” and the criticism the referee received regarding his
officiating that night, Olsen requested that the referee be removed
from consideration from the July 3 title bout.
UFC attorney Mersch, who was present at the Las Vegas meeting, also
asked the commission to remove Mazzagatti from consideration based
on similar claims.
NSAC Chairwoman Pat Lundvall said she had reviewed Mazzagatti’s
post-fight comments in regards to the Lesnar-Mir bout and found no
grounds of an actual bias on the referee’s part. Lundvall would not
approve Mazzagatti’s removal from consideration, though the
appointment ultimately went to Rosenthal.
Lesnar’s attorney had previously objected to Mazzagatti refereeing
the fighter’s rematch with Mir, which eventually took place at UFC
100 in July 2009 with referee Herb Dean
officiating the bout.
On Wednesday, the commission also approved the judges for the
five-round title bout. They will be Adelaide Byrd, Glenn Trowbridge
and Tony Weeks.