NSAC's Keith Kizer defends Steve Mazzagatti's handling of Fitch vs. Burkman following Dana White's criticism

Ethan Miller

After Dana White blasted Steve Mazzagatti as a "f*cking toolbox" for his handling of the end of Jon Fitch vs. Josh Burkman, NSAC director Keith Kizer defended the referee, stating that he did neither a good nor a bad job.

Dana White was not thrilled with the actions of Steve Mazzagatti after the events of the World Series of Fighting 3 main event. Josh Burkman caught Jon Fitch in a guillotine choke and put him to sleep, having to let go on his own when he realized Fitch was out as Mazzagatti seemed out of position.

The UFC president blasted Mazzagatti on Twitter and then again at the media scrum for this past weekend's UFC 161. MMA Fighting had the quotes from the scrum:

"Does anyone disagree with me that Mazzagatti's a f***ing toolbox?," asked White at a media scrum after the press conference in Winnipeg. "I mean, he literally did nothing. Fitch is out cold. And I saw some people talking s*** on the Internet today, like, well B.J. Penn held the choke for five more seconds (against Jens Pulver) and somebody else, I can't remember who it was. Those were rear naked chokes.

"Anyone who has ever done Jiu Jitsu, that thing (the guillotine) does f***ing damage," said White. "It hurts, and a guy is unconscious. You're squeezing his neck as hard as you can. You're a f***ing idiot that a rear naked choke is the same as that front choke. When he (Fitch) goes out, then he (Burkman) rolls him f***ing over, let's his head flop to the thing. He's standing over him before Mazzagatti gets in there.

"The Nevada State Athletic Commission will keep this guy around until he seriously hurts somebody," said White. "That guy is dangerous."

Keith Kizer, Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) executive director, defended Mazzagatti:

"It as neither a positive or a negative on the referee," said Kizer. "All of us in the arena, and the commentators who know their stuff, were really shocked Jon was out. Steve was right there. He had to walk two steps. He walked two steps and waved off the fight. It was very easy for him, and every easy for Josh as well. It was a weird ending to the fight, but good for Josh."

...

"The guy went out and Josh immediately released the hold," said Kizer. "What's weird is he flipped Fitch over, away from the ref. When Josh had the hold, he (Mazzagatti) was one step away. He had a perfect view. Josh flipped him away from the ref, then stood up. I would praise the referee if he did a good job. But here, there's nothing to talk about the ref. It wasn't a good job or a bad job. He had no job. I think most people thought Jon was going to get out. Bas and I both thought he was letting go of the hold and transitioning to another hold."

...

"The story should be about Josh getting an amazing win, doing the right thing, and releasing the hold," said Kizer. "This isn't about the ref."

White would later go on to claim that the NSAC doesn't take action due to "ego" and that he expected them to assign Mazzagatti to work the Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman main event at UFC 162.

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