Saturday, January 22, 2022

Referee Trainer Addresses de Randamie’s ‘Legal or Illegal Shots’ Debate

UFC 208’s main event saw the inaugural women’s featherweight title up for grabs in a controversial bout between Germaine de Randamie and Holly Holm.

Following the fight, referee Todd Anderson was heavily criticized for failing to dock a point from de Randamie, which would have had a significant effect on the result of the bout. It is distinctly possible that the title will have stayed in the hands of the UFC, rather than being awarded to the Dutch fighter, who threw strikes after the bell in the second and third rounds. De Randamie did have a warning from the referee after the end of Round 3, but it is the strike after Round 2 which appeared to have caused damage to Holm.

UFC president Dana White questioned Todd Anderson’s experience and credentials following Holm’s loss, stating that he was not convinced that he [Anderson] had done enough to prove his capabilities to warrant his status as a world-title fight official.

Despite the uproar over the late exchanges, it has been pointed out that the referee does have the final say on whether a shot is legal or illegal following the sounding of a bell/horn. While the general consensus is that Holm was harshly treated, the rulebook does state that there is a fine line between such a call.

MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi spoke with the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) Rob Hinds (a certified trainer of referees and officials) to gain further insight into why no point was deducted from the new champion.

Hinds stated that rules dictate that rounds only end when the appointed referee intervenes and confirms to fighters that they do, not when the bell sounds:

“When the bell sounds, whenever that happens that’s just our indication to stop the round,” said Hinds. “That’s not the signal for the exact end of the round. We need to make sure we’re in position and everything is in place to stop the action as close to that horn as possible.”

Hinds added that a ref must begin to prepare to separate fighters once he hears the “clack” to indicate that 10 seconds remain in the given round. It is was the responsibility of Anderson to close the distance when the horn sounds:

“Once we’ve done that, we’ve intervened and anything after that is punishable,” said Hinds.

“Could he have closed the distance better? “Possibly. Did he have that countdown from 10 in his head, so he had a pretty decent idea of when that round was coming to an end? Did he get physically involved and verbally involved? Those were some of the pieces that when we look at our performances, we could go, ‘I could have done that a little better.’”

“If you don’t take care of things as they happen, it steamrolls. Because he didn’t give her a soft warning the first time or address it directly the first time, now that second time, this is a strong warning phase. This is a hard warning.”

Hinds confirmed that there are factors involved in considering whether to deduct a point: foul intent; repeated damage, and the effect the perceived would have on the outcome of the bout.

When Hinds was asked if he personally would have deducted a point from de Randamie following the late strike after Round 3 he did state that he would have, regardless of a warning after Round 2’s first strike following the sounding of the horn. The referee trainer was diplomatic in addressing Anderson’s decisions, stating:

“It’s one of those things that happens that any of us can make that mistake on any night”.

A costly mistake which has prevented Holly Holm from writing her name into the history books, and joining the likes of Conor McGregor, B.J Penn and Randy Couture as UFC cross-divisional world champions.

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