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April 4, 2016

Mitrione Vs MSAC Postponed until May

Jen Cobis was kind enough to call and inform me this afternoon (4/5/16) to let me know that the Mitrione Hearing will take place in May.  A date has not been confirmed, but she says it will likely be the first Thursday of the month following the regular meeting schedule.

So it's April folks and no fooling the time has finally come for the commission to address the elephant in the room concerning the events surrounding the UFC's visit to the Baystate.  On April 7th Matt Mirtrione will sit before the Hon. LaTeisha Adams, Com. Guy Licciardi, Com. Joseph Krowski Jr, Com. Gary Litchfield, and Com. Quion T. Riley to make his appeal heard regarding the submitted complaint shown above.  He's asking that his loss be removed from his record.  He's not the first fighter licensed by the MSAC to make this request, but certainly a very high profile figure with worldwide visibilty.
He's also following a process that most don't prepare for when they launch a complaint and I believe he'll be successful.  I've sat through many hearings such as this and the number one mistake most make is not being prepared to be questioned by multiple people for any length of time.  He has been preparing for nearly four months so it should be no problem for him.  Legal council will help the commissioners, but for the most part they'll be able to ask anything they like that may prove useful in a future decision on the matter.  I think it will be unlikely that we'll see the governing body make a ruling at this hearing.  Rather they'll likely collect all the evidence and testimony and make a ruling at a later date the result of which will be made public at the next public meeting in one of the following months.
There will also be another item on the agenda that most people locally will be interested in and that is if any penalties/ suspension/ revocation will be levied against the referee that officiated the Mitrione Vs Brown match at the January '16 UFC Boston Fight Night event where Mitrione was fouled twice by Brown with what seemed like preventable eye-pokes.  Brown seems to have adopted a fingers forward style of guarding against opponents that rush inside his range.  Twice over the course of the match, which was to be Mitrione's final contracted match for the UFC before renegotiations took place, Brown purposely used a straight arm with extended fingers directly in his opponents right eye and injured the encroaching man.  The match seemed to take a nasty turn with each succession of the foul as Ref. Gary Forman, M.S.A.C. lic. ref and matchmaker, failed to use sound judgement when issuing warnings.  Instead of cautioning or penalizing the offending fighter he instead issued a verbal warning to the injured fighter then in the same match failed to act according to regulations and deduct a point for the second foul and or call the match a "No Contest" when mitrione complained of not being able to see.  This gave the impression that Forman didn't fully understand the rule set he was responsible for enforcing.  Mitrione lost the match choosing to go out on his shield and give the fans what they came to see, but once the event had concluded and his senses came back to him he lamented the fact that no official stepped in to stop the match and prevent him from further injury.  He's been criticized by many for that position, but it is totally acceptable in my humble opinion.  He's in the cage to entertain and to earn a wage.  The officials know exactly what is on the line if they allow sport fighting to become more than that.  Fingers have been pointed at the commission over the years as having conflicts of interest across different aspects of the sport.  One such example is mentioned in the formal complaint submitted by Mitrione.  He asserts that an unnamed commissioner has ties to the CFX "Cage Fighting Xtreme" promotion owned and operated by Gary and Linda Forman.  We'll have to see how that effects the proceedings.  He also complains that Forman should never have been assigned to officiate such a high profile match due to an indisputable lack of officiated matches over the course of his time as a licensed combat sports referee.  He asserts that the unnamed party currently seated as a commissioner may have been involved with the favorable assignment.
I've yet to see the actual agenda, but I've been contacted twice by other local refs who wanted to know if I'd be in attendance.  Com. Guy Licciardi has reached out to Ref. Kevin MacDonald and asked him to be present which leads me to believe that the commission is prepared to discuss the grievances in earnest.  MacDonald is by far the most active and knowledgable MMA official we have in MA and his testimony will be critical.  It is possible and I think probable that this may turn into a "Closed Meeting" and that all public attendee including media & press will be barred from the hearing and that the outcome will be unavailable to the public.  However, if we don't see the Referee in any of our cages for a length of time it will be a win and have had the desired result.  Which by the way is to protect the fighters from unnecessary complications in the cage.

Joe Leonard