The Ultimate Fighting Championship boss was frustrated enough with the officiating Saturday night that he invoked one of his least favorite names.
In the light heavyweight bout between Ed Herman and Mike Rodriguez at UFC Fight Night 177, Rodriguez was in control of the fight when he landed a vicious knee to Herman's body, midway through the second round. Herman dropped to the ground and referee Chris Tognoni, apparently mistaking the body shot for a low blow, allowed “Short Fuse” a timeout to recover. Tognoni’s call led to the awkward scene of the veteran Herman wisely taking his time to regroup while replays repeatedly showed the completely legal nature of the strike in question.
What might have been an embarrassing but largely harmless gaffe became a serious issue in the third round, however, when Herman—still taking a beating from the younger man—locked up a kimura from the bottom, forcing Rodriguez to tap out. Considering that the fight might well have been stopped shortly after the second-round knee strike if things had been allowed to play out, Tognoni’s mistake had now, arguably, changed the entire outcome of the fight.
At the post-fight news conference, White ripped Tognoni's work, comparing him to longtime MMA referee Steve Mazzagatti. White has always been vocal about referees' and judges' mistakes, and Mazzagatti has been one of the officials about whom White has complained the most over the years.
"It's hard not to bang on this guy," he said. "The worst I've ever seen. He's f---ing Mazzagatti level. That's some Mazzagatti-level s--t right there, it was one of the worst things I've ever seen. That kid wins by knockout, technical knockout, and loses the fight."
White went on to claim that more savvy usage of instant replay would have solved the sticky situation. The Nevada State Athletic Commission’s rules (Nac 467.482) state that a referee can call a time-out to consult with officials of the Commission or to view replay footage at any time during a fight, but in practice, it has generally only happened when reviewing fight-ending sequences.
"I was all over them tonight about the replay," White added. "We have to have a replay. There's got to be a replay. All you've got to do is look at the f---ing replay that is playing 6,000 times while Herman is on the ground and say, 'Oh s--t, I made a mistake.' You can't see everything. We're human and that's a tough one. How you think that is a groin kick is next level nuts, but whatever. It happens. What are you going to do about it? It happened."
White also stated that Rodriguez would be paid his win bonus despite the official result, while Rodriguez's team announced that they would file an appeal.