Strikeforce 'Houston' Results: Just How Bad Is Referee Jon Schorle?

If you missed the breathtaking incompetence, here's a recap of Schorle's inability to properly do his job last night:

But Griggs managed to get back to his feet on a few occasions, forcing Lashley to expend more energy trying to get him back to the ground. On one of those subsequent takedown attempts, Griggs tagged Lashley with an uppercut that opened a bad cut under his left eye that continued bleeding the rest of the way.

The fight took a turn on Lashley in the second round. While in the mount, but not staying extremely active, referee Jon Schorle inexplicably called for a stand up. But there was some confusion in the moment as Schorle then had doctor's check on Lashley's cut. He then restarted them standing rather than in the advantageous position that Lashley held.

An exhausted Lashley lunged for a takedown, but Griggs held him off and unleashed a torrent of punches, many of which appeared to land to the back of Lashley's head, until the round ended. But though he survived to the end of the round, Lashley was battered and couldn't make it back to his feet immediately, causing Schorle to stop the fight.

Sports Illustrated's Josh Gross Tweeted his frustrations:

Jimmy Lennon says referee Jon Schorle had seen enough. I've seen enough of Schorle. He's never improved as a MMA ref. Ever. Awful.

Not that Lashley is some prize. He was dead tired at the end of the second. But the outcome was a direct result of incompetent officiating.

It isn't just in MMA refereeing that Schorle has failed to properly officiate. He's beyond the pale in both boxing and MMA. Jordan Breen elaborates:

If you're a boxing fan, you'll be dismayed to find out that Schorle, a Californian-based official now splitting time in Texas, was the referee who stood by while Vic Darchinyan beat Victor Burgos until he had a blood clot in his brain, resulting in emergency surgery and an induced coma following the bout. He was the third man in the ring for Vitali Klitschko beating hapless Corrie Sanders to a pulp. He oversaw the Erik Morales-Zahir Raheem bout -- which he allowed to devolve into a clinch-filled slip-and-slide on a soaked canvas -- as well as Joel Casamayor-Michael Katsidis, in which a thrilling bout was compromised by Schorle's all-around inattentiveness. Schorle's reputation is such that before the rubber match in his epic trilogy with Rafael Marquez, Israel Vazquez's camp fought viciously and successfully to have Schorle removed as the bout's referee and replaced with Pat Russell. These are just a few recent examples.


However, Schorle's most infamous MMA moment came in the March 2006 quasi-snuff film that was Rob McCullough-Olaf Alfonso. Just moments into the second round, McCullough landed a crushing right cross that sent Alfonso's mouthguard airborne. As the supine Olaf lay on the mat with a predatory foe above him, Schorle took a cursory glance at Alfonso's eyes -- which are glassy and googly even at his most lucid -- and then walked across the cage to retrieve the mouthguard. McCullough took the chance to land three absolute killshots on the defenseless Alfonso, as the miserably out-of-position Schorle made a mad dash to stop McCullough from pureeing Olaf's face.

Don't think that I intend this article as a hit piece on Schorle, and don't confuse my critique of the referee with an attack on the person. I bring up his prior bad acts to emphasize the question of how an official can get away with such consistently awful officiating in well-publicized debacles and not only be rewarded with plum assignments, but also remain unscathed and unnoticed by fans and media. Schorle is not just a liability as an official that I wanted to single out, but his position is symptomatic of larger problems with the discourse surrounding officiating in MMA -- problems we're all accessories to.

If you're asking how this kind of stunning incompetence can happen so regularly, it's because in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king. That is, athletic commissions across America are struggling to fill their ranks with referees, judges, time keepers and other administrative personnel with competent employees. Talk to commission heads and they'll echo this sentiment. Some commissions are probably content with whatever quality they can produce and seem immune to criticism, but most will candidly tell you they need help.

There is no judging or refereeing conscription. We are dealing with commission officials who, for better or worse, are a volunteer army. Schorle might be slighlty more capable than the average orangutan, but if there are no alternatives due to a lack of volunteering then, by default, Schorle is your best option.

It's both reflexive and somewhat fair to pin the blame on the Texas commission. God knows they've got their issues (and they never responded to my formal request for information regarding the actual attendance numbers and live gate receipts from Shark Fights shows). But until the combat sports community recognizes many hands make light work, they should just come to terms with the fact that referees who endanger the lives of fighters or improperly tilt the balance in one fighter's favor are going to be par for the course.


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