In the wake of Josh Burkman avenging his loss against Jon Fitch, I have a few thoughts.
First and foremost, get Mazzagatti out of the goddamn cage. He's a menace to fighters. I understand that reffing MMA is harder than reffing boxing – there are more judgment calls. I get that. But Mazzagatti is terrible. Fire him before someone gets hurt.
Second, John! This just validates Dana White's assholery! It elevates his bad decisions to the realms of oracle! Now he can just smugly say that he knew that this was going to happen, which is why he fired you!
Third, well, yeah, I also saw it coming so it's possible White, with his greater access to information, knew it, too. Fitch came off of a year-long rehab of a separated shoulder to get kneed in the face by Johny Hendricks. Then he got outwrestled by BJ Penn for two rounds before pulling off a draw more due to Penn's lack of stamina than anything in particular he did. Then he narrowly beat Erick Silva and was dominated in a positional battle by Demian Maia before getting submitted by Burkman. There is a word for this and the word is “shot”. He's getting to be in his mid-thirties and more than one athlete has failed to recover from a separated shoulder. I'm sure Fitch works real hard, but since he's utterly opposed to the kind of therapies that would allow a 34-year old dude to recover from a bad separated shoulder, his inability to beat anyone of stature in his past four fights indicated to me he should start looking for a job with less physical trauma involved. Fitch has shown greatly diminished ability to win the positional battles upon which his style depends and it isn't like he's radically improved his striking to make up for it. Also, his chin seems to be going. There are only so many head blows a dude can take, after all.
I know, this seems to disrespect Josh Burkman, diminish the significance of his victory. Well, yeah. This is not the same John Fitch as before his shoulder separation. Maybe it's the shoulder, maybe his love of fighting has waned, maybe it's something else or some combination, but regardless of the cause, the effect is that if John Fitch can't beat Josh Burkman, he's no longer a force in MMA. The fight was, I think, far more a referendum on Fitch's diminished performance than a demonstration that Burkman is now a top welterweight.
But, really, the takeaway message from all of this is that Steve Mazzagatti is a terrible referee and need to be taken out of the game before someone gets seriously hurt.