(A replay of the Munoz/Weidman ending in all its gory glory for those of you who missed it.)
Right before he kinda sorta announced his pending retirement from the sport during the UFC on FOUEL TV post-fight show, Stephan Bonnar made the audacious claim that referee Josh Rosenthal should be fined and/or suspended for his late stoppage during the Mark Munoz/Chris Weidman fight. After Weidman landed some 12 or 13 unanswered shots on a helpless Munoz, I briefly thought that we were witnessing the first death in the promotion’s history, and my immediate reaction was almost that of agreement. Almost.
Because, although it is hard to deny that Rosenthal dropped the ball Wednesday night, the stoppage was likely considered even worse because it was a revered official like Rosenthal who made it. This wasn’t Steve Mazzagati calling an eye poke a TKO or Kim Winslow letting Jan Finney return from the dead only to be killed once more. This was Josh freakin’ Rosenthal, a man who had not only made our top five referees list a couple years ago, but had easily climbed up it a few spots in the time since. This was a man who had, as GritandMettle’s Darren Jensen put it, “reffed Shogun vs Hendo perfectly” — the same goes for his excellent job in the first round of Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin’s UFC 116 heavyweight title fight. What we’re saying is, this isn’t an everyday occurrence for the guy. Hell, can anyone even remember an instance in recent memory that Rosenthal has even come close to screwing up (Faber/Mizugaki maybe)?
In retrospect, Bonnar’s assessment was a little harsh, but Rosenthal was still willing to admit that he shit the bed, so to speak, when he appeared on SiriusXM’s “Tapout Radio Show”:
I came home and I watched it, and I was kind of like you know, if I was sitting here, watching this on the couch, I probably would have been talking smack about myself. I always say accountability is a huge part of the sport, and you are accountable for your actions.
As for the stoppage in question, Rosenthal understands that it was a bit on the late side, but is just trying to make sure it never happens again:
I feel like I was just a little slow on the trigger. I don’t want to see guys take unnecessary punishment. It’s a rough sport. Everyone knows what they sign in for, but it’s a millisecond-basis game. You’re making choices right there on the spot, and in the heat of the moment, I felt like I was seeing some stuff. In hindsight, I have to step my game up and make sure I’m on point for the next guys.
So what do you guys and gals think? Should Rosenthal be punished for failing to save Munoz when he was clearly out? Or does his one misstep pale in comparison to the blunders made by far lesser referees?