While many fans and fighters upset about poor judging decisions over the past few years let out a near-unanimous cheer when they found out UFC president Dana White removed a judge following two consecutive controversial decisions at UFC Fight Night Macao on Saturday, the move caused consternation for those that cried foul that a UFC executive could influence the regulation of the event.
The move came just two fights into the event in Macao, China, an event that the UFC self regulates.
The UFC regularly self regulates international events when there is no local sanctioning body available, as there is in most locations in the United States. When there is a regulatory body in place, the UFC defers to that body.
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So what’s the problem with White making such a move when he’s self regulating, right?
The thing is, in order to try and uphold the sanctity of objectivity when it comes to the regulatory process, which can affect the outcome of a bout, the UFC set up its self-regulatory process to try and keep it as close to simulating an independent regulatory body as possible.
The UFC has its own body of internal regulators, headed by highly respected former Nevada Athletic Commission Executive Director Marc Ratner, that act independently of any other UFC official.
Which means that White, nor any other UFC executive, has the authority to do what he did in Macao.
The UFC on Tuesday admitted that White was in breach of the UFC’s protocol, apologizing for the transgression.
“After an internal review, the UFC organization announced today that a breach of its independent regulatory protocol occurred on Saturday night during UFC FIGHT NIGHT MACAO,” read a statement at UFC.com.
“After the second fight of the night, UFC President Dana White requested that Howard Hughes, one of the event's five assigned judges, be removed from working any further bouts. Pursuant to UFC's protocol, neither White nor any other UFC executive possesses such authority. Nevertheless, protocol was breached and Hughes did not work further bouts on Saturday night.
“The UFC organization has always been in support of government regulation and oversight. Additionally, the UFC has established a protocol when required to self-regulate events due to the lack of an official athletic commission, federation or other regulatory body. In those instances where UFC holds events in locations without a regulatory body, the UFC's protocol dictates that the organization's internal regulators will handle all commission functions independently and without interference by company executives or employees.
“The UFC remains committed to maintaining the strictest regulatory environment for competition and vows that no similar breach of protocol will happen again.
“Both White and the UFC apologize to Mr. Hughes for calling his professional judgment into question. Hughes has judged more than 25 UFC fight cards and the UFC looks forward to him working on its events again in the future.”
There was no word from UFC officials on whether or not White would face any sanctions for breaching protocol.