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The ‘UFC Fight Night 38′ Danavlog Further Highlights MMA’s Need to Embrace the Instant Replay

The recently-released ‘Fight Night 38′ Danavlog, which contains behind the scenes footage from both UFC 169 and 170, has all the makings of a classic Danavlog: nasty cuts and bruises, fighters breaking down backstage, and Matt Serra ripping on Ray Longo for the black eye that Kevin “mixed martial farts” James gave him. Toss in some classic Ronda Rousey mean-mugging, and you’ve got yourself a D-vlog (as the kids are calling them) right up there with “The gang finds a guy asleep behind the wheel.”

But about six and a half minutes into the video (6:24 to be precise), there’s a moment that displays something more than the usual mix of heartbreak and hilarity found in Danavlogs and actually warrants further investigation.

Referees Mario Yamasaki and Yves Lavigne are giving Daniel Cormier and Demian Maia, respectively, a few last-minute reminders about the rules, likely in an effort to avoid a Sims vs. Mir-level mishap. While Yamasaki simply reiterates to Cormier that covering up does not count as intelligent defense (seems like he should’ve saved that speech for Pat Cummins, amiright? *self-fives*), Lavigne informs Maia that even if his upcoming opponent, Rory MacDonald, were to tap, Maia should continue applying the submission until Lavigne pulls him off. “I have to see the tap,” says Lavigne,

“If I don’t see it and you let it go, and if he says ‘I didn’t tap,’ we’re screwed.”

Now, this should be concerning for a multitude of reasons…

#1: Holding onto a submission after an opponent taps is exactly what got Rousimar Palhares fired, if I remember correctly. (That he would sometimes hold onto subs after *the ref* had grabbed him could also be part of the reason he was let go.)

#2: “If I don’t see the tap, we’re screwed?” I’m sorry, but isn’t this the kind of problem that instant replay was/is supposed to solve?

We’ve previously argued that the addition of instant replay in MMA would create more questions than answers, questions relating to how/when it would used and how much it would affect the momentum or outlook of a fight. But a situation like the one Lavigne just presented is exactly one that could easily be solved by instant replay. Besides the fact that ignoring the tap all but contradicts the point of a tap in the first place, it seems rather risky to give such advice to Maia, a ground wizard who could easily end a career in such a span, of all people. If a situation arose where Maia claimed MacDonald had tapped and the “Ares” claimed otherwise (defying all previous conceptions of the Canadian Honor System in the process), it would only take a glimpse at one of the dozens of super slo-mo Phantom cams to determine who was telling the truth.

And if not an instant replay, then why not just a replay in general? (I refer to the Sakuraba-Silveria example noted in our previous article on the subject.) If Yves blew the call or thought he saw a tap that he didn’t, MacDonald shouldn’t have to file an appeal and maybe get the result overturned months down the road when the evidence is sitting right in front of all three of them mere moments after the incident occurred. Far too much emphasis is being placed on MMA referees, who range from highly experienced to unjustifiably incompetent even at the highest levels of the sport, and while an instant replay could slow things down from an excitement standpoint, there’s no need for our sport to continue acting like a referee’s call is the be all end all. Especially when…

#3 – Do all referees give the same pre-fight reminders as Lavigne?

There’s been a lot of discussion in recent years about the discrepancies amongst MMA referees when it comes to their understanding of things like what constitutes a “back of the head” strike, what constitutes “intelligent defense,” and what constitutes a tap (it just so happens that both Yamasaki and Lavigne have found themselves at the center of such controversies), so I ask: Do guys like Herb Dean and Big John McCarthy agree with Lavigne’s assessment? Or do all refs even give pre-fight reminders to the fighters?

In a sport that is plagued by inconsistency in the judging and reffing departments, this is perhaps the most important distinction to make. Because while a big part of MMA refereeing is knowing the limitations of the individual fighters you are presiding over, a bigger part of it establishing a set of guidelines that do not change from fight-to-fight.

I’m probably making a mountain out of a molehill again, but I just find it interesting that ignoring the tap has apparently become standard protocol amongst the sport’s best referees. What I’m trying to say is: BRING BACK PAUL HARRIS!! #Thrillofdafeet #RallyforPaulHarris #MikePierceisaDramaQueen

-J. Jones

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