There’s incompetency, and then there’s incompetency so appalling it wins awards.
Mixed martial arts pundits, fans and even UFC President Dana White himself often complain of the ineptitude pervasive in the various roles played in athletic commission officiating. White’s favorite target is veteran referee Steve Mazzagatti, but no dedicated observer of MMA will tell you the problems are isolated or the solutions simple to implement.
Every so often, however, an incident of amateurishness takes your breath away. Sherdog’s Robbery of the Year for 2009 is so painfully obvious that even other egregious examples of poor scoring this past year pale by comparison. Were we to somehow combine the horrendousness of Michihiro Omigawa’s "wins" over Marlon Sandro and Hatsu Hioki, we still could not touch what happened at an Ultimate Warrior Challenge event in Fairfax, Va., on Oct. 3.
By the time UWC 7 rolled around, local fan antipathy toward Beebe had crystallized heavy support for Easton. MMA fans across the area were dying to see Easton crush an opponent that would launch him into international relevance, especially one whom they believed had previously flaked on him to be a part of the first Dream featherweight grand prix; Beebe insists there was miscommunication.
The D.C. media got in on the hype, too. Easton had been making the rounds in print, radio and television outlets across town for what seemed like weeks -- a gigantic step for an athlete in a sport yet to be fully embraced by the local sports media.
The UWC 7 card not only featured Easton vs. Beebe but also arguably the most important North American flyweight fight in MMA history between Pat Runez and John Dodson. In other words, this was a serious event with a lot riding on the line.
But heading into the event, something was not right. Virginia’s athletic commission had set an ominous tone before the fights even started. Among a variety of other troubling infractions, the weigh-ins for the event were held with a scale that sat on a carpet, a completely inaccurate measurement of weight in a moment where precision is non-negotiable. Brazilian Felipe Arantes was even allowed to fight fellow countryman Freddy Assuncao with Shinya Aoki-esque shootboxing pants on despite such attire being completely banned by the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.
Despite these worrisome oversights, the UWC had no choice but to continue on. Fast forward to the main event. Easton entered the arena to local Washington, D.C., go-go music and raucous applause; Beebe to jeers and boos.
The fight began.
And the rest is history. Read the rest of the piece for thoughts about the fight from Kelly Crigger, Josh Gross, Michael David Smith and Sergio Non.