Whether it’s bringing an end to a bout prematurely, or letting it go on for too long, referees are often in the firing line for their decisions in the octagon. At UFC 110 this weekend I believe that the referee may have a significant role to play in the outcome of the main event between Cain Velasquez and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Why have I picked out this bout in particular? It’s largely down to the styles and attributes of both fighters.
Cain Velasquez’s M.O is to get on top of his opponents and wear them down with a relentless ground and pound assault. It’s been a successful strategy so far, leaving him undefeated after seven professional fights, and I don’t see him changing it this weekend.
Along with his excellent work rate, cardio, and wrestling skills however, one thing that also stands out about Velasquez is that he does not appear to possess knockout power. His fights generally end not because he’s beaten his opponents into unconsciousness, but rather because the referee has taken pity on his opponent due to the number of strikes he has endured during the fight.
Therefore the referee’s judgement of when ‘enough is enough’ is usually a critical factor when Velasquez fights.
At UFC 110 his opponent is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira who will be happy to work his high level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills from the bottom, and is famous for taking large amounts of punishment before somehow managing to emerge with the victory.
It means that ‘Big Nog’ has in the past relied on referees giving him the benefit of the doubt. Several of Nogueira’s most famous wins may not have occurred if the referee involved had intervened too early.
This leads me to believe that on Sunday morning in Australia the fate of both fighters may lie in the hands of the referee selected to officiate this bout.
If he is prone to stopping fights early then the advantage lies with Velasquez. If he prefers to give fighters time to work their way out of a tough situation then it could give Nogueira the time he needs to find a way to win.
Either way it’s going to be a major call for the man in charge to make if the situation arises, and potentially a controversial one.
Who’d be a referee?