When Will UFC Fighters Demand Different Referees Based on Style?

Rick Story was looking for a submission against Charlie Brenneman when the fight was stood up. (Photo: UFC.com)

UFC on Versus 4 is in the rear view mirror and UFC 132 is this weekend. It's probably time to shift gears (if only the Nate Marquardt story would let us). But the Versus card had some bizarre and awful reffing and I'm having a hard time moving on, and a recent development in this weekend's David Haye vs. Wladimir Klitschko heavyweight boxing superfight got me to thinking.

There has been talk that Haye is not happy with the fact that Genaro Rodriguez is reffing the bout as Rodriguez has reffed four previous Klitschko fights. While this is probably just a bit of gamesmanship by Haye, especially given that Rodriguez has never done anything that would suggest a Wladimir bias, it makes me wonder why we don't see more of this in the UFC. Arthur Abraham was ready to not fight Andre Ward at the last minute because the California commission chose to appoint a Californian referee even after both parties agreed that the ref would not be from Ward's home state.

When will fighters and their management begin to try to have much more input in who officiates their bouts. Mark Matheny has a reputation as a guy who is quick to stand fights up, a fact I mentioned on Twitter during the event, so his placement on the fight between Christian Morecraft and Matt Mitrione meant that Morecraft was likely at a disadvantage from a strategic standpoint. And it did play out to where the few takedowns Morecraft was able to land were met with Matheny demanding action in a matter of seconds and standing the fight up before Morecraft had the ability to fully establish his position, let alone begin to work.

Matheny would again come into play again that night in the bout between Charlie Brenneman and Rick Story as he stood the fight up while Story was actively working to finish an armbar/kimura attempt. Obviously Matheny allowed for more ground work overall during that fight than the Morecraft bout but it still showed his tendency to look to stand fights up quickly.

While I obviously don't have any desire to see UFC fight negotiations break down into the battle over small details that can often happen in boxing. I do have to wonder if there will ever be a time where fighter management is smart enough about referees and the impact that they can have on the outcome of a fight that they begin to make moves that don't put their fighter at a disadvantage before the opening bell.

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