Kenny FlorianFollowing the UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson post-fight press conference on June 15, UFC president Dana White criticized referee Steve Mazzagatti for what took place the night before at the conclusion of the World Series of Fighting 3 main event between Josh Burkman and Jon Fitch.

Burkman stunned Fitch with punches and then applied a guillotine choke on the former UFC welterweight contender. Fitch went limp and unconscious.  Burkman rolled him over, released the choke, and stood over Fitch in celebration.  Mazzagatti was the referee.

White characterized Mazzagatti as “dangerous.”  He went so far as to call Mazzagatti an “incompetent fool.”  He also criticized the Nevada State Athletic Commission for continuing to assign Mazzagatti to referee fights.

“The Nevada State Athletic Commission will keep this guy around until he seriously hurts somebody,” said White.

Executive Director of the NSAC Keith Kizer defended Mazzagatti’s performance at WSOF 3 to MMAFighting.com, saying it wasn’t a good or a bad job.  He compared Fitch going out to a one-punch knockout where a fighter walks away after landing the finishing blow.

“I would praise the referee if he did a good job. But here, there’s nothing to talk about the ref. It wasn’t a good job or a bad job. He had no job,” said Kizer.

On Monday, former UFC lightweight and featherweight contender Kenny Florian took White’s side in the assessment of Mazzagatti as a referee.

The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 finalist disclosed that during his eight-year career, if Mazzagatti was assigned to referee one of his fights that his camp would protest and request another referee.

Florian’s words carry much more weight than the promoter White or the commissioner Kizer. Florian provides a fighter’s perspective.  And when fighters begin requesting certain referees not be assigned to their fights, it makes a profound statement.

“As a fighter you can train for almost anything that can happen in a cage EXCEPT FOR bad refereeing & bad judging,” continued Florian via Twitter.

Florian also criticized Kizer’s defense of Mazzagatti, saying instead the referee should have been reprimanded.

Florian did give an endorsement to two referees that he considers the best in the sport, “Big” John McCarthy and Herb Dean.

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