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Why Keith Kizer’s Resignation is Great for Combat Sports

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In a shocking move, Keith Kizer resigned from his position as executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The move is still being digested but his resignation will bring a much needed change to who gets to judge a fight in Nevada.

We all know bad decisions are a part of combat sports, they happen. It’s an issue when a large amount of controversial scorecards originate from the same state. In this case Nevada has been far and away the worst offender when it comes to bad judging.

The wheels started falling off the Keith Kizer bandwagon in December of 2010 when Leonard Garcia scored a laughable split-decision win over Nam Phan. According to FightMetric.com, Phan out struck Garcia every round and should have won the fight 30-27. When pressed for answers after the fight, Kizer was somewhat nonchalant in his response:

“You treat it like a batting average. Say that you score the first 11 rounds of a boxing match right and you get the last round wrong. Sure, you should have gotten it 100% right, but you’ve got a 94% batting average and that’s not bad. But more often than not, when people complain about the judges, they’re just wrong. They are either wrong in the sense that the judges did in fact get it right, or they are wrong in the sense that it wasn’t a robbery and it could have gone either way.”

Really Mr. Kizer? The people were wrong for being upset over the judging of Phan vs. Garcia? It is constantly referred to as one of the biggest robberies in the history of the sport. Also 94% is not that bad? The judges have these fighter’s careers in their hands. When something like that is at stake 100% is the only acceptable rate.

Fast forward to the year of 2012. Manny Pacquiao is waiting to hear his name announced as the victor after his hard-fought bout with Timothy Bradley. But… his name is never announced and somehow Timothy Bradley is declared the winner. Once again, Nevada’s judges filled out the scorecards wrong. Maybe THIS was enough to help Kizer finally bring change to Nevada’s judging!

Unfortunately it was not.

After the bout Kizer was once gain non-committal about implementing drastic change in Nevada’s judging. When speaking to the LA Times after the fight Kizer stated, “every fighter who loses a close fight looks at the judges…I think every judge should strive to get better.”

His comments were not what fight fans around the globe wanted to hear. Fans wanted to hear that decisions like this will never happen again as long as he is Executive Director. Unfortunately fight fans never received that promise.

The last straw for MMA fans was this past November at UFC 167 where Georges St. Pierre took a horrid decision over Johny Hendricks. We all hoped and prayed that this would bring change to Nevada. Nope. As a matter of fact, Kizer didn’t understand the controversy surrounding the fight! Kizer said the following to Cage Writer at Yahoo Sports:

“I don’t see controversy in the [St. Pierre vs. Hendricks] decision. The media seems split on who won. The L.A. Times scored it for GSP. All seemed to agree that Hendricks won rounds two and four and that St. Pierre won three and five. The first round could have gone either way. Even if you disagreed with the scoring, how is that something to criticize the commission for? Before the fight, both the St. Pierre and Hendricks camps were fine with the proposed judges. Marc Ratner and Dana White have also told me that they believe Sal D’Amato and Tony Weeks (the two judges who scored the fight for St. Pierre with scores of 48-47) were two of the best judges, if not the best, in MMA. You can tell they feel that way by where the UFC has taken them.”

Really Mr. Kizer? You never saw the controversy where Georges St. Pierre was beaten and battered yet declared the winner? You didn’t see Hendricks destroying the side of St.Pierre’s face with elbows in the first round?

I think I speak for MMA fans worldwide when it comes to Kizer’s resignation: good riddance.

When John McCarthy, one of the best referees in all of Mixed Martial Arts, cannot referee in the state of Nevada because of a personal dispute with the executive director, there needs to be change.

Fortunately for fight fans, promoters, and fighters that change may be coming. Hopefully Nevada can look to their neighboring state California for advice. At UFC on Fox 9 this past December, the California State Athletic Commission made sure no judge on the card was less than a purple belt in BJJ. While this does not keep bad decisions out of MMA it’s a huge step forward to preventing them. For some reason Kizer never caught wind of this. He was always too stubborn for change.

Here’s to that change coming to Nevada.