Photo by Esther Lin for Strikeforce.com
Much has been made of Kim Winslow's refereeing job during Saturday's nights women's title fight between Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos and Jan Finney. I thought Winslow acted tactfully, myself, and I think a lot has been made of the situation because 1) the two combatants were female (one, a bruiser; the other, a pretty face) and 2) the referee also carries two "X" chromosomes. But let's leave that discussion for another day.
For whatever reason, the focus of the discussion about the fight has centered on Winslow's officiating. But there are (at least) three groups of individuals who allowed the fight to play out as it did.
1) The California State Athletic Commission - I forget the opening line off the top of my head, but Best Fight Odds shows a closing line for "Cyborg" at -1400. I remember reading that she hit as high as -2000 (or more). Regardless, we're talking about a betting favorite somewhere between 93 and 95%. That's not even the worst of it. Finney entered the bout with an 8-7 record. Documentation of weight limits are scarce, but her Wikipedia page lists her as fighting primarily at 135 pounds. While she's fought the "who's who" of female MMA, she had not beaten a single "name" fighter with the exception of Adrienna Jenkins by split decision. And I'm not enough of an expert on the subject to qualify Jenkins' credentials.
So why was this fight sanctioned by an athletic commission? Regrettably, more should have been made of this situation in the buildup, but the question remains. I'm not sure how an objective observer can review the details of a fight involving one woman with a barely five hundred record moving up in weight to take on a 10-1 wrecking machine in a five round championship title fight and allow the fight to take place.
2) The ringside doctor - Go back and watch the end of round one. Who are the first two people Finney is in contact with after the bell? The cut man and the ringside doctor. We aren't privy to the conversation as Showtime immediately cut to replays. If Winslow's officiating in the first round was egregious and negligent, how come the ringside doctor allowed Finney to walk out for a second round?
3) Finney's corner - If anyone's to blame for not protecting Finney DURING the bout, it's Finney's corner. One member of her corner happens to be Mike Patt. Why is that significant? Patt and Finney are involved in a romantic relationship. Did that add any complications to the decision making process? I don't know. Frankly, if Finney appeared lucid and cognizant, I have no problem with them allowing her the chance to fight a second round. But again, if Winslow's actions were so reprehensible, why hasn't any attention been paid to the corner?
There's no arguing that this fight was brutal and violent. Finney took the beating that most expected "Cyborg" to dish out. At no point, however, up until the stoppage did I feel that Finney stopped "intelligently defending" herself (as cliche and overused that term is). In fact, I would go as far as saying that it was "Cyborg" who delayed the resolution of the contest, as she seemed almost confused as to what to do when Jan covered her head on the ground.
The real group in question here is the CSAC. Why was such a mismatch allowed to take place?