ShoXC “Herman vs. Schall” is likely to be most remembered not for its quick stoppages, but for its poor refereeing. Of the four fights I was able to watch (Herman-Schall, Khalidov-Guida, Lapsley-Stumpf, and Shlemenko-McDaniel) three of the fights saw mistakes by the referee.
In the evening’s main event between Dave Herman and Kerry Schall both fighters connected early in the opening round, though Herman seemed the more-effective of the pair. However, Herman’s finish was setup by an accidental low blow that sent Schall to the canvas. After catching Schall with a low knee Herman finished him off with ground and pound. The strike, the second low blow of the brief main event, was not called and setup Herman to finish the fight. The stoppage was justified enough as Herman was pounding away and Schall was doing little to defend himself (though to his credit he didn’t appear too hurt after the stoppage complaining to the ref “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”), but the missed low blow significantly affected the outcome of the matchup.
The stoppage in Mamed Khalidov vs. Jason Guida was much less justified. Khalidov was the more effective fighter throughout, mixing strikes and submissions, but Guida was able to avoid any significant damage. As the final seconds of the second round ticked away Khalidov had Guida cornered against the cage and let loose with sloppy punches. Though Guida did little to defend himself during the barrage, very few, if any, of the punches landed yet the referee still intervened with only seconds remaining in the round. Guida pushed the referee away in disgust and, though it wasn’t the best way to handle the situation, I have to say I agree with Guida in that this fight was clearly stopped far too early. Guida bolted for the exit before we could witness his in cage interview so there’s little more to go on, though based on the replays this was a bad stoppage.
Refereeing wasn’t the problem in Anthony Lapsley vs. Mike Stumpf, but the judging was. Lapsley outfought Stumpf over the duration of the three round bout in what should have been a clean 30-27×3 unanimous decision but Lapsley instead walked away with just a majority decision victory. Though the type of decision matters little since the proper fighter was awarded the win, this highlights the incompetency of some MMA judges in properly scoring rounds and the need for better-education on the scoring of a bout.
And finally, perhaps the worst display of refereeing I’ve ever witnessed. Robert McDaniel dominated Alexander Shlemenko over the first 4:50 of their main card bout, nearly earning a stoppage victory but Shlemenko recovered to connect with a beautiful flying knee to the ribs at the final second to send McDaniel to the canvas. Shlemenko couldn’t finish McDaniel off with strikes as the round had expired, but it appeared the knee was enough to prevent McDaniel from returning. In what would become a series of questionable decisions, the referee somehow felt that McDaniel was the victim of a low blow (though replays show the knee landed squarely to the ribs just below McDaniel’s armpit) and appear to start to allow him time to recover. Then out of nowhere the fight is waved off because McDaniel is unable to answer the bell for round two. This decision was the correct one as McDaniel likely suffered multiple broken ribs from the blow but the question coming out of this bout should be the incompetence of the referee. Luckily Showtime was smart enough to interview the referee in the cage after the fight and this is when things went from bad to worse. The referee completely missed seeing the knee land whatsoever, which caused the fight-ending blow to nearly be called a illegal strike, but also seemed utterly clueless in the post-fight interview.
Sure, everyone has an off day but to make major mistakes on three main card fights is astounding and truly inexcusable. Situations like the ones witnessed tonight have no place in a sport fighting for legitimacy and main stream acceptance.