Keith Kizer's resignation from his position as executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission came as a surprise for most. He'd become one of the most controversial figures on combat sports, in part because controversy is inescapable as the head of the athletic commission in the "fight capital of the world," but also because of his attitude toward what many saw as issues with the sport in his state.
Kizer was notorious for dismissing complaints over poor refereeing and especially over poor judging. He repeatedly assigned judges to the biggest fights possible even after previously turning in indefensible scorecards. The easy example is judge CJ Ross, who was one of maybe ten people on Earth to score Timothy Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao for Bradley (unfortunately for Pacquiao, she was one of two official judges to see it that way). Kizer held no one accountable while the sports world shouted about the injustice and Ross ended up back in the spotlight fifteen months later, calling the clear cut Floyd Mayweather domination of Canelo Alvarez a draw.
That was the most extreme example of Kizer's unwillingness to address issues under his watch, but it was far from the only. Generally when media members would speak to him to ask about these ridiculous judging results, Kizer would dismiss them with condescending rants about how the scoring was fine and suggestions that people simply didn't understand how scoring works.
But, even taking his shortcomings into consideration, Kizer is going to be difficult to replace for Nevada according to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports:
Candidates are already coming out of the woodwork seeking to replace him, but commission chairman Francisco Aguilar isn't going to find a lot of qualified candidates who will also be willing to work for the money the job will pay and deal with the slew of headaches that go along with it.
Aguilar will appoint an interim executive director who will be charged with regulating UFC 170 on Feb. 22 in Las Vegas, and that's not going to be easy to do. That will be child's play, though, compared to finding a full-time replacement. It is no understatement to suggest that will be a monumental challenge.
Obviously, the person chosen will have to have a background in both MMA and boxing. There are not a lot of those people around, and of those who meet the qualifications, it's unlikely many of them are going to be interested.
Kizer was making $95,000, but he had mandatory furlough days and a greatly reduced staff compared to his predecessor, Marc Ratner.
$95,000 isn't chump change, but it's not a ton for such a high profile gig with endless headaches and challenges.
Regardless of your feelings on the organizations, the emergence of VADA and USADA put pressure on the NSAC to step up their ineffective "urine only" drug testing protocol. Kizer had been working to do just that, attempting to provide certain high profile fights with the option for enhanced random testing using WADA labs and guidelines. The future will need to see this expanded on even with a tightening budget.
It also may be hard for an inexperienced person to fill the role and be willing to rock the boat. Judging and refereeing has mostly been a club that once you're in, you're in for life. Someone needs to come in and be willing to hold these officials accountable for their job performance.
Can Nevada find someone that can provide leadership, stability, accountability and creativity on a small budget? The answer to that question dictates the future of MMA and boxing in the state long considered the world's premier fight destination.