Lesnar Reps Give Mazzagatti Thumbs Down

By Brian Knapp Oct 23, 2008
Representatives for Brock Lesnar on Wednesday requested that the Nevada State Athletic Commission remove Steve Mazzagatti from consideration as referee for the upcoming five-round title fight between their client and UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture.

The anticipated bout, which pairs the hulking former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar with the UFC hall of famer, will headline UFC 91 on Nov. 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Citing Mazzagatti’s officiating in Lesnar’s UFC debut against Frank Mir in February, attorneys David Olsen and Brian Stegeman made their aversion to the referee’s presence known at a regularly scheduled NSAC meeting. The attorneys claimed Mazzagatti was “involved in what we believe was a controversial ruling in connection with the Mir-Lesnar fight.” They asked that Mazzagatti be removed from consideration for the UFC 91 main event to avoid “distraction” and “any further controversy.”

During the Lesnar-Mir match at UFC 81 -- a match Mir won by first-round submission -- Mazzagatti deducted a point from Lesnar for an illegal blow to the back of Mir’s head. Up to that point, Lesnar had dominated the former UFC champion and appeared to be on the verge of forcing a stoppage.

NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer commended Mazzagatti for his work at UFC 81 and did not remove him from consideration.

“I think Mazzagatti did a great job that night,” Kizer said.

Along with Mazzagatti, Herb Dean, Josh Rosenthal and Mario Yamasaki were under consideration to officiate the Couture-Lesnar match. Yamasaki was ultimately awarded the bout, which marks the 45-year-old Couture’s return to the cage for the first time since he stopped Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga on strikes at UFC 74 in August 2007.

Correction: Sherdog.com initially reported that Kizer had granted the attorneys’ wishes to remove Mazzagatti from consideration, though Kizer later clarified the referee was still considered for the bout.
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