Former two-division champion and current UFC commentator Daniel Cormier did not work the recent UFC Vegas 41 event, but he had something to say about how referee Jason Herzog handled the main event. Cormier was not a fan of Herzog taking a point from Paulo Costa after he poked his opponent, Marvin Vettori, in the eye late in the second round.
“The poke in the eye, I get it. But, when he got a point deducted — and I’ll tell you this, I thought this immediately right after. I thought to myself, ‘Jason Herzog has been watching the headlines.’ Jason Herzog has been watching and paying attention to the story that’s going around this fight,” Cormier said in a recent video from his YouTube channel.
“As an official, you can’t read the headlines,” he said. “That’s one thing that I’ve learned as I’ve been doing these fights. Everybody pays much more attention than you ever want to believe. Everybody, from the fighters to the referees, everybody pays attention. The commentators. Everybody listens.
“And they listen to things that they shouldn’t, so at times, as humans, they make decisions — or we make decisions that may end up not being the right thing for the situation. And I think in this one, Herzog read the headlines and he may have judged Costa unfairly.”
Herzog simply did his job and implemented the rules. One thing that’s bothersome about Cormier’s opinion is how he accuses him of focusing on outside the cage issues, without thinking about how those charges could affect Herzog’s reputation and opportunities.
If everyone listens to “things they shouldn’t,” who’s to say that an athletic commission, a promoter or a fighter won’t listen to what Cormier said about Herzog and decide, in the case of a commission, not to use Herzog to officiate an event or events? With a promoter, if they take Cormier’s words to heart, they could request Herzog be kept from working their cards. And as for fighters, they too, if they believe Cormier’s narrative, could say they do not want Herzog working their bouts. Cormier’s madcap logic could hurt Herzog’s reputation and cost him work and earnings.
Another reason Cormier’s statement about Herzog is harmful is that if other officials listen to what the UFC commentator has to say, they might fear getting called out by Cormier in such a public way. Cormier’s video has over 45,000 views as of this writing, and it has also been picked up by various outlets. That’s a fair number of people who watched the former champ call out a referee for what he perceived as a failure to do his job.
A referee’s reputation is incredibly important. If Cormier is comfortable calling out an official as respected as Herzog, what’s preventing him from doing the same to other referees? With what he said about Herzog, Cormier is practically telling UFC referees he doesn’t think they should call fights by the rules. Instead of chastising Herzog for doing things by the book, Cormier should praise him and call for other referees to follow Herzog’s lead.
One thing I think that is being lost in this is that I believe Cormier is telling on himself. I believe he’s projecting his feeling onto Herzog. With that, I think Cormier opened himself up to have his commentary placed under a spotlight and analyzed for bias. Was Cormier saying he would have allowed Costa’s shenanigans to influence his coverage of the fight, and because of that, everyone must feel the same way? If so, I would vehemently disagree.
I don’t think Herzog did anything wrong at UFC Vegas 41. If there was any harm done in this situation, it would only be from Cormier’s end.