NSAC head Keith Kizer defends Steve Mazzagatti, shrugs off Dana White comments


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keith-kizer-4.jpgThe head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission says criticism of officials won’t influence future assignments, to the contrary of UFC President Dana White’s recent comments.

This past weekend following UFC 161, White blasted referee Steve Mazzagatti’s officiating in the World Series of Fighting 3 main event between Jon Fitch and Josh Burkman, saying Fitch’s safety was endangered when Mazzagatti failed to notice the fighter going unconscious from a guillotine choke early in the fight. (watch the Burkman vs. Fitch fight video.)

At the same time, White lamented that his continued targeting of Mazzagatti would ensure the referee would continue to get big fights.

“The Nevada State Athletic Commission will keep this guy around until he seriously hurts somebody,” White said to a small group of reporters following a post-event news conference for UFC 161, which MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) attended. “That guy is dangerous.”

Fitch found himself caught in the chokehold after a brief exchange of punches early in the fight, which took place at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and was overseen by the NSAC.

As Fitch staggered to the canvas, Burkman secured the submission and fell to his back. Fitch reached to free himself, but then went unconscious. Burkman then rolled him over and released the hold, sending his head flopping to the canvas, and then stood up with an arm outstretched in a victory pose.

Mazzagatti was standing over the fighters to Burkman’s left when the sequence took place. He immediately waved off the bout after Burkman stepped away from the snoozing Fitch.

“This was a great performance by Josh Burkman,” NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer told MMAjunkie.com, adding, “It was a very strange and quick ending to the bout. It has nothing to do with the referee one way or the other. Josh took care of business, released the hold immediately and stood up.

“[Burkman] was a little theatrical flipping Mr. Fitch over like a pancake, away from the referee, which made it look kind of strange. But that was no fault of the referee, or Mr. Fitch. Mr. Burkman’s amazing performance over Fitch is what people should be talking about.”

Kizer took little offense to White’s comments, saying the executive’s criticism is “part of his job.”

“Dana likes to criticize even his own fighters,” Kizer added. “That’s who he is. It has no effect on me.”

Kizer said referees and judges for the next major commission-regulated event, UFC 162, will be selected at a meeting on June 28 in Las Vegas. The NSAC typically employs a handful of referees for the promotion’s pay-per-view headliners, including Mazzagatti, Herb Dean, Mario Yamasaki and Yves Lavigne.

Attendance, gate figures and drug testing results for WSOF 3 will be available in the near future, Kizer said. Kizer said no WSOF 3 combatants had applied for a therapeutic-use exemption for testosterone replacement therapy.

For more coverage of WSOF 3, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

(Pictured: Keith Kizer)

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