A referee in a mixed martial arts bout has the authority to use video replay to determine whether or not the correct call was made, a New York State Athletic Commission official said Wednesday.
The question about New York’s policy on the use of video replay came to the forefront in Chris Weidman’s fight against Gegard Mousasi last Saturday at UFC 210 in Buffalo.
“NYSAC referees are empowered to consult video evidence, pursuant to broad statutory authority designed to allow NYSAC and its agents to arrive at correct determinations,” Commission spokesman Laz Benitez wrote in an email to Newsday.
Benitez referenced case law, in particular Frank v. Stevens in 2008, “which settled the question of whether NYSAC could consult video replay to ensure the correct outcome of a bout.”
That cited case involved a boxing match between Raul Frank and Terrence Cauthen in 2007. NYSAC ruled Frank’s victory over Cauthen was a no-decision after reviewing video of the fight, saying an unintentional headbutt caused the knockout of Cauthen.
In the Weidman-Mousasi fight on Saturday, Mousasi connected on a pair of knees to Weidman’s head, and referee Dan Miragliotta deemed them illegal strikes and paused the fight. Miragliotta made the determination in the moment that Weidman had both hands on the mat while still on his feet, deeming him “a grounded opponent” under the new unified rules of mixed martial arts. Under the old rules, a grounded opponent need only have one hand on the canvas to prevent kicks to the head.
Those rules were approved by the Association of Boxing Commissions in 2016 and put into effect for 2017. Each state, however, determines its own rules to sanction fights. New York has implemented the new rules this year.
During Weidman’s allotted five minutes to recover from what initially was called an illegal strike, Miragliotta consulted with outside referee John McCarthy, who looked at video and determined the strikes were legal. Miragliotta then reversed his call and ruled the knees to be legal blows from Mousasi.
While Weidman was recovering, he was examined by a Commission doctor, who ruled him unfit to continue, giving Mousasi the win by technical knockout.
Footage from the fight during the stoppage surfaced Monday which included the following comments:
Miragliotta: “The doctors want to call it. He doesn’t know what day it is.”
Weidman cornerman Matt Serra: “He’ll never know what day it is, though.”
Miragliotta: “He told me it was February and he told me he didn’t know what the date was.”
The questions from the doctor and Weidman’s answers were not heard on the video.
New York’s guidelines for MMA make no specific mention about the use of video replay to ensure the correct outcome of bouts. Benitez said the NYSAC will be “reviewing the question of formalizing this authority as a written policy.”
Weidman said at his post-fight news conference that he planned to appeal the decision. According to NYSAC, there is no deadline for which a licensee must file the complaint, nor does the Commission have to respond within a certain time frame.
As of 3 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, NYSAC said they had yet to receive any appeals from UFC 210. That includes one from Anthony Johnson, whose lawyer said Tuesday that he intends to file an appeal over the towel-grabbing actions of UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and the handling of the weigh-in proceedings by NYSAC last Friday.
“When a complaint is received, Commission staff will obtain video of the matter and determine whether there is evidence of clear error at the end of the bout that directly and proximately caused an incorrect final outcome,” Benitez said. “If no change to the announced result is deemed necessary, an explanatory letter response is sent back to the complaining licensee. If the Commission decides to change the announced outcome of the bout, it would offer the opportunity for a hearing to the affected parties.”