UFC president Dana White has issued a stern, public warning to all fighters and other employees about their conduct towards referees following two ugly incidents in recent weeks.
White felt compelled to warn all fighters and other employees that they risked being fired on the spot for any inappropriate approaches or contact with referees, following commentator Dan Hardy’s furious ringside tirade against Herb Dean.
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A second incident outside of the UFC, in which UAE Warriors fighter Ahmad Al Darmaki tried to scuffle with referee Marc Goddard, was also motivation for White to condemn any and all disrespect towards the officials.
White said that while it was one thing to criticise someone’s performance as a referee, aggressively approaching them or wild, unneccesary criticism would result in a short future with the UFC.
“If you work for me and you approach a judge or a referee or any type of official, I will fire you,” White said during UFC Vegas 5 weigh-ins.
“Nobody has the right — listen, you want to criticise judges, you want to criticise referees, you didn’t agree with a decision or things like that, we love Dan (Hardy).
“Dan got emotional. And the problem is now, with this set-up, it’s a lot easier to do.
"If you work for me in any capacity, and you approach a referee or judge or an official, I will fire you that night, on the spot."@danawhite took a hardline stance on interactions with officials after an incident involving UFC commentator Dan Hardy and referee Herb Dean. pic.twitter.com/Ppvy4zLpUi— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 31, 2020
“It’s a lot easier to interact with everybody, from the fighters to the refs to the media and everybody.
“If you work for me in any capacity and you approach a referee or judge or an official, I will fire you that night on the spot. That can never happen here again.”
MMA world shocked by ‘despicable’ referee attack
During the UAE Warriors 12 event in Abu Dhabi, fighter Ahmad Al Darmaki secured a winning rear naked choke on rival Bogdan Kirilenko, forcing his opponent to tap out.
Al Darmaki paid no attention to his opponent’s submission however, refusing to release Kirilenko even after fight referee Marc Goddard stepped in.
Goddard was forced to physically pry Al Darmaki’s arm off Kirilenko, prompting him to inexplicably lash out at the referee in an ugly confrontation.
Fans and pundits alike were united in calling for heavy penalties against Al Darmaki, who grabbed Goddard’s collar and shoved him after being prised off his opponent.
High-profile MMA writer and podcaster Ariel Helwani said it was a ‘despicable’ act.
“Great job by Goddard. Despicable behaviour by Al Darmaki,” he tweeted.
“Holds onto the choke way too long and then gets physical with the ref. Unacceptable behaviour. Should be DQ’d, suspended and fined.”