Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dan Miragliotta *Face Palm*

                                                "This fight would be better if they were on their feet."

I don't want to be this guy. I hate to be this guy. But right now, I have to be this guy.

Why do we even call this sport "mixed martial arts?" In theory, it's because anyone that steps into the cage will be allowed to use any kind of martial arts technique that they desire, whether they have formal training in that martial art or not.

Dan Miragliotta, however, clearly disagrees with this position. Don't get me wrong; MMA is full of incompetent referees that make bizarre and infuriating decisions. None of them have the distinction of reffing fights like they have money on a certain guy, though. Miragliotta does. The ghastly Kimbo Slice-James Thompson stoppage comes to mind, where Danno stopped the fight after Slice landed two hard punches that didn't even put Thompson down (probably to make sure he hit his parlay); so does last night's Vitor Belfort-Anthony Johnson debacle.

After coming in at a comical 197 lbs. for his UFC 142 co-headliner against Vitor Belfort, Anthony Johnson figured to have a limited gas tank. Sure enough, he came out sloppier than hell, immediately desperate for takedowns. It was quickly apparent that this was his lone chance to beat the precise hands of Vitor, and after an early takedown, he was able to land a dive bomb right hand through the guard.

Then, right as Vitor was going for mission control, Dan Miragliotta stood the fighters up. After stumbling around for another leg, Johnson was able to press Vitor against the cage, hopeful that he would earn another thunderous takedown. While Belfort was easily defending this effort, and landing some damaging punches to boot, Miragliotta broke up the clinch. Johnson became even sloppier, now understanding that he was going to be given absolutely no time to work on the ground or in the clinch. He used his freakish strength to secure another takedown, and just as he was getting into his rhythm on the floor Dan Miragliotta (I hope you're sitting down) STOOD THEM UP AGAIN.

No longer than 2 minutes and several failed kamikaze takedown attempts later,  Johnson was tapping the mat due to a rear naked choke. He was released from the UFC, and he should have been. His performance, coupled with his spectacular failure to make weight, were enough to warrant a release to me.

But you know what? That isn't what I took away from the fight. The story of that fight was that Dan Miragliotta couldn't make it through a piss at a urinal without preventing Anthony Johnson from attempting to do his job.

The fact that Johnson "would have lost anyway" might be true, but it misses the point entirely. It's revisionist history. It's creeping determinism. It was an even fight, with Belfort doing damage with punches and Johnson scoring points with punches and takedowns. And yes, Johnson gassed hard. But maybe he wouldn't have if he had been allowed to work.

Referees: Stop standing fights up! STOP. I don't care how aesthetically unpleasing a fight might be, and I don't care how loud the crowd is booing. The fact is, just as some fights are even on the feet, some are also even on the ground. But even fights on the floor always have this "they aren't doing anything, so they must be stalling" stigma attached to them. I don't want to watch the Ultimate Kickboxing Championship. I want to watch MMA. And referee standups prevent that from happening.


  1. Miragliotta was instructed to keep it short for Johnsons naught behavior

  2. Anthony Johnson got axed. Why can't bad reffing be punished as well?

  3. Totally agree with this, it's MMA not kickboxing. I could only think of a few things:
    1 - Dana/Zuffa "reminded him" that Johnson needed to be taught a lesson for missing weight and embarrasing the UFC.
    2 - Miragliotta heard the crowd going nuts and pussied out and figured he would do whatever they wanted.
    3 - He has become one of the worst referees ever.

    I have seen some bad standups and some quick breakups along the cage but this is by far the worst. Marc Goddard is really bad, especially if Bisping is fighting. It's obvious Goddard comes in to fights saying "I'm not going to let this guy stay on top unless he's pounding someone or about to submit them." However, this Dan was so bad last night I feel he should be fired, this was not ok. I don't care about Johnson winning or losing and am somewhat happy he lost because of his antics but Dan is a joke.

  4. Well, on the other hand, coming in 15 pounds heavier then your opponent does give you kind of an unfair advantage in being able to keep guys on their back...

  5. Anon. # 1: The worst standup I ever saw was last year when Mark Matheny stood up Rick Story as he was working for a legitimate armbar against Charlie Brenneman. But yeah, Dan (who, by all accounts, is a really nice guy) curries to the crowd. It's not good.

    Anon. # 2: I don't agree at all. For starters, Dan absurdity aside, Johnson was completely spent after 3 minutes. Had that fight gone into the second round, I honestly think Johnson might have just fallen over.

    Secondly, what about heavyweights? How come Cain Velasquez routinely outwrestles guys that outweigh him by 15-30 pounds? What about Fedor, or Daniel Cormier, or any number of other heavyweights that are often faced with a weight disadvantage and yet still excel in wrestling? Size doesn't make you a great wrestler; it's more like a combination of technique, athleticism, and desire.

  6. No conspiracy. Just a few crummy stand-ups. You wouldn't be 1/2 as good as Mirgliotta. W/out instant replay or a "side judge" some things will be missed or called wrong. That is part of sport. So stop being a "that guy" that you claim you don't want to be and enjoy the fights.

  7. I didn't suggest that there was a conspiracy, I suggested that Dan Miragliotta is not a good referee. It was the above comments that suggested a conspiracy, not I. The whole "Miragliotta has money on these fights" thing was just me trying to make humor out of something that is entirely unfunny.

    What does instant replay or "side judging" have to do with intrusive referee stand ups? You got me.

    I enjoy fights that are allowed to play out organically, instead of fights like Belfort-Johnson, where every time the fight seemed to have a rhythm to it, or some kind of momentum, it was interrupted by the referee. You misunderstand.