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With controversial judge Doug Crosby, athletic commissions’ actions will speak louder than words

Don’t expect to see ‘toxic’ MMA judge Doug Crosby working major MMA events early in 2023

MMA judge Doug Crosby has been widely criticized for his scoring
MMA judge Doug Crosby has been widely criticized for his scoring
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The athletic commissions who used Doug Crosby to judge MMA fights in 2022 have remained silent on their intention to utilize him in that role in 2023. While that’s understandable, the actions of those commissions —and others — will speak much louder in the coming year.

Bloody Elbow reached out to the following athletic commissions: Texas, California, Nevada, New York and the Mohegan Tribe. New York was the only commission that did not respond (as of publication). Each of the other commissions offered a no comment when asked if they planned to use Mr. Crosby as an MMA judge going forward.

While the no-comment responses were disappointing, they were also wholly understandable because the commissions handle things in-house more often than not. Any repercussions Crosby faces now or in the future from the athletic commissions will not come out in public. However, the

consequences will become apparent with each MMA event held under each commission’s jurisdiction.

Crosby took a lot of heat for scoring the Bellator 289 main event 50-45 in favor of Danny Sabatello. The other two judges who worked that contest for the Mohegan Tribe commission, Eric Colon and Bryan Miner, had Sabatello’s opponent Raufeon Stots getting the nod by a score of 48-47. Colon and Miner had identical round-by-round scores for the bout.

The criticism of Crosby picked up the following day when he judged the UFC 282 co-main event bout between Paddy Pimblett and Jared Gordon. Some of that condemnation was due to his 29-29 scorecard in favorite of Pimblett (judges Chris Lee and Ron McCarthy also had Pimblett winning 29-28). However, the more significant worry for some — including a caller who lodged a “formal complaint” with the Nevada State Athletic Commission — against the veteran MMA judge — was that Crosby flew from Connecticut to Las Vegas to work the UFC event the next day.

Crosby did himself no favors in the court of public opinion when he appeared on Chael Sonnen’s You’re Welcome podcast this week. During the podcast, Crosby said, “You’ve got to assign a numerical value to what you just saw and on average you get about 15 seconds to turn that score in. If you write off about five of those seconds for the time it takes to write it, that leaves you about 10 seconds to make a decision about who won a round and who lost a round, in the most sophisticated, dynamic sport featuring the best athletes in the world.”

As more than one person pointed out, that reasoning was extremely suspect because it ignored the fact that an MMA judge should be able to decide a winner and loser in a round quickly after the horn if they have been giving the action their full and undivided attention.

It’s not an understatement to say that Crosby is toxic as an MMA judge right now. So any commission that uses him to score a fight will receive a lot of unwanted attention and questions from the fighters, media and the public — and rightfully so.

The decision of the commissions mentioned above to not publicly criticize Crosby — or any MMA official — is understandable. The referees and judges who work high-profile MMA events need to know the commissions won’t put them in the spotlight whenever public pressure arises. Doing so would be bad business for the commission because it could reduce the pool of qualified officials willing to work with that commission. While some might want these men and women publicly pilloried by the commissions, that’s not going to happen, nor should it.

However, we will know soon enough if the NSAC will have Crosby work events in 2023 because the UFC has six events in Las Vegas in the first quarter of the coming year. There is also one UFC event in Texas in March 2023. As for Bellator, it has a February card in California and an event in Ireland that same month.