Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jon Jones Possibly Protesting DQ Loss

From Jon Jones' Management team:

Let’s be clear, Jon is not 'unhappy' he feels as all things happen for a reason. We are protesting the L because we felt that Jon’s opponent could not effectively communicate why he could not continue. The rules state that an intentional foul and that the fighter cannot continue based on injury sustained from the foul. Hamill could not continue due to a broken shoulder. Jon should have been deducted a point for the accidental illegal blow. Matt should have been treated like we treat the Brazilians and given 5 minutes to regroup and offered a translator so the ref could make the right call and understand Matt could not continue due to his shoulder injury not the blow. This should be a NC for both fighters but not a loss. Hamill continued with an injured Shoulder and only complained once the action was stopped (warrior) but the fight was stopped based on the shoulder injury in our opinion."

First, to be clear, a fighter protesting an
MMA decision against an athletic commission is like an MLB player arguing with the umpire about being unfairly called "out" at first-- the party with all the power never admits they're wrong. That said, several obvious breakdowns in the enforcement of the rules have come to light since Saturday's unusual decision in the Jon Jones vs. Matt Hamill fight.

The Unified Rules of
MMA state that committing a '12-to-6 elbow' infraction (as Jon Jones clearly did) is punishable by a one point deduction, unless, your opponent is unable to continue as a direct result of the illegal blows. In such cases, the injured fighter is awarded the victory.

When he first stopped the fight, referee Steve
Mazzagatti only intended to deduct a point from Jon Jones. After famously deaf fighter Matt Hamill proved unable to continue, Mazzagatti asked him, without the aid of a translator, if he had been injured by the elbows. Hamill responded only that he could no longer fight. At that point, Mazzagatti decided to view video of the infraction to determine for himself if the downward-elbows resulted in Hamil's inability to continue. This was the first time instant replay had been used to determine the winner of a high-level MMA bout. After viewing the video, Mazzagatti declared that the illegal elbows had indeed rendered Hamill unable to continue and thus awarded him the victory.

Here's the thing though, it wasn't the '12-to-6' elbows from Jones that
TKO'ed Hamill. In fact, Hamill had sustained a shoulder injury, one that may require surgery, during the massive trip-takedown that Jones used to take the fight to the mat. From that point on, Hamil was bravely defending himself with one arm as he absorbed a vicious onslaught from Jones. Mazzagatti could argue it was the downward elbows that finished Hamill off, but it's clear that Hamill had been effectively rendered unable to compete from that initial takedown onward.

So really, there are three places where Steve
Mazzagatti arguably went horribly wrong. 1) S.M. could have stopped the fight when Hamill was taking a beating under Jones' full-mount. Hamil was very unlikely to improve his position, while Jones actually appeared to be getting bored of hitting him. 2) S.M. could have waited for Hamill's translator to help him determine why exactly "The Hammer" was unable to continue. 3) S.M. should have been more mindful of the fact that instant replay in MMA is still in its infancy before he used it arbitrarily to help support a decision that he had apparently already made. Now its usefulness in the sport is unnecessarily being called into question.

Anyone wondering why
UFC President Dana White continually calls Steve Mazzagatti the worst ref in MMA should take note that the evidence is clearly mounting. I won't change the result of Hamill vs. Jones on my official record unless the commission overturns Mazzagatti's decision, but, again, I'm not holding my breath for that.

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