Keith Kizer: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer credits UFC commentator Joe Rogan for the electronic response the commission has received in regards to the split decision Leonard Garcia won Saturday over Nam Phan at “The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale.”
The majority of fans and media believe Phan deserved the nod. Judges Adelaide Byrd and Tony Weeks gave Garcia the win, though, 29-28. Junichiro Kamijo dissented, 30-27 for Phan.
In response, Rogan ripped into the judges and has specifically called out Kizer as ultimately responsible.
“Props to Mr. Rogan. He’s definitely got quite a loyal following,” Kizer said Wednesday during a “Savage Dog Show” interview on the Sherdog Radio Network. “I’ve gotten more e-mails on this decision than any other decision we’ve ever had. Probably about 700 total. You’ve got to give him credit for that. Unfortunately, probably 90 percent of those e-mails were just very rude and unprofessional, and that’s too bad. I wish more people could argue or discuss things in a more rational, legitimate, ethical way, which you would think would perhaps be more effective as well. But nonetheless, that’s OK. I don’t mind getting those as well.”
Despite the aggressive tone of some e-mails, Kizer said he’s listening.
“First off, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with someone’s opinion, you want to listen to it if you’re a public official,” Kizer said. “Even the e-mails with the curse words and the name calling, I read those e-mails. I didn’t respond to them, but I read those e-mails. I think it’s important no matter what.”
While Kizer is listening, he’s not necessarily agreeing. For instance, he does not believe there has been a preponderance of bad decisions lately in MMA.
“I kind of almost think not the opposite but differently in the sense that there’s always been -- I mean, I don’t know a time when there hasn’t been somebody arguing about some decision,” he said. “You look back at any year of MMA. Let’s just stick to MMA. The last 10 years of MMA, you can go to any calendar year and find people complaining about something or another. And that’s understandable, especially at these higher-level fights.
“First off, they’re seen by a lot of people. Even if only one percent of the people complain -- I take it a lot more than 700 people saw that [Garcia-Phan] fight -- so even if less than one percent of the people complain, that’s still a lot of people. Secondly, I think there’s just a lot more people on the message boards. There’s a lot more people following the sport.”
Kizer said there’s a much bigger response to decisions -- people agreeing and disagreeing -- than ever before. Still, he acknowledged that on first viewing, he was surprised Garcia was given the decision over Phan.
“It seems like a lot of people don’t have a problem with the first round going to Garcia,” Kizer said. “I thought it should have gone to Phan, but I could see it going to Garcia and I don’t have a criticism on that round. All three judges gave the second round to Phan, so obviously no criticism there. But the third round, after the fight I had the judges explain themselves. They gave their explanation as to why they gave that third round to Garcia. I want to watch and see, and if I still don’t get it, then I’m going to bring the judges in and say, ‘Look, let’s just go through this.”
Kizer explained it’s typical protocol to review footage of contentious decisions he might not agree with, as he will with Garcia-Phan. If needed, he also sits down with judges and reviews the fight, pausing and discussing the action to understand how the fight was scored.
It’s not necessary to review the history of a judge’s scoring, Kizer said, because he’s evaluating the judge every fight card.
“Really every round they officiate -- most of the time it makes no effect because it’s an easy round or there’s no controversy or it was simple, no real issue -- but there might be a situation where the ref does a great job or makes a mistake or the same with a judge where that will affect his or her rating as you go forward for future assignments,” Kizer said.
No official is promised future assignments, Kizer said, and it is not difficult to remove those who have proven incapable.
“There’s been a few occasions where it gets to the point where a judge just isn’t working out and they need to move on,” Kizer explained.
The NSAC boss regularly gets inquiries about how to become a judge. For the outraged fans out there, he suggests hitting the amateur ranks.
“It’s one thing to sit at your computer or sit in front of your TV or sit in the crowd or even sit at the desk being their director and decide who you think should win that round or not,” Kizer said, “but at the end of the day, your decision’s not going to affect this guy’s career. The pressure isn’t there that is with an official judge. Sitting in that hot seat, as I call it, at the amateurs gets you ready for sitting in the hot seat in the pros.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:31:43) with Kizer, who discussed in depth additional aspects of judging.