Jason High was recently expelled from the UFC following his actions at the UFC Fight Night event in Albuquerque, N.M.
Referee Kevin Mulhall called a halt High's fight when he perceived that High was not intelligently defending Rafael dos Anjos’ strikes late in the second round. High immediately popped up, furious, and shoved Mulhall in the heat of the moment.
He later apologized to Mulhall and again via Twitter. “Incredibly sorry & embarrassed for the ref incident. Will never happen again.”
It sure won't happen in the UFC, as UFC president Dana White – who didn’t witness the incident – fired High.
“What I did find out is that I guess that Jason High kid got up and pushed a referee; he’s cut,” declared White.
The New Mexico Athletic Commission then handed High a one-year suspension and a $1900 fine.
Pioneering mixed martial arts referee “Big John” McCarthy was recently asked about the incident. He feels that, for what High did, the penalty was higher than it should have been.
“Absolutely there has to be varying degrees of punishment, but it has to be a punishment that evenly matches the crime, and the crime was pretty minimal,” McCarthy said during an interview with Submission Radio Australia.
“Jason put his hands on Kevin and kind of pushed him away. It was wrong. (But) to be taken out of the UFC… I understand what Dana White is doing. Dana is slamming his foot down, going don’t do that, you're embarrassing me, you're embarrassing my promotion, you're embarrassing the sport, I can’t have that,” he continued.
“Now the question is, if Jon Jones would have done the same thing, would he have kicked Jon Jones out of the UFC? He wouldn’t have. Now I understand why, I’m not saying that he should, but Jason got punished in a harsh fashion. Now on top of Dana removing him from the UFC, the New Mexico State Athletic commission has suspended him for 1 year. That’s one year of time that he cannot make a living fighting. That's a lot. You're having people take away your ability to make a living, based on one act.”
The referee is in the ring or cage to make sure the rules are followed, and even more importantly, to make sure that the athletes are competing with a reasonable amount of safety, sometimes saving them from themselves so they don't take unnecessary punishment.
It is, however, a physical sport where violent actions play a part in winning. Emotions run high, and that's what happen to High. He let his emotions get the best of him. He was the one at fault, but is that reason enough to take away his usual means of earning a living for a full year?
McCarthy seems to think that was overly harsh.
“Sometimes we as human beings, we do things off of emotion that we normally wouldn't do,” he said.
“Do I think he should have been punished? Yes. He should have had his hand slapped, he should have gotten a five-month suspension, he should have been fined, we'll say twenty-five hundred, five thousand dollars. That’s gonna hurt him, he's gonna feel it, but I think that overall Jason got treated very harshly for what happened.”