When the officials were announced for UFC on Fox 2 here in Chicago, some eyebrows were raised after only a single ref from Illinois would be inside the cage during the event. Helping out John McCarthy and Herb Dean, was Rob Madrigal got the assignment from the Illinois State Athletic Commission.
While Madrigal had only been inside the cage for 15 pro fights prior to his UFC on Fox assignment, since January of 2011 he has overseen 138 amateur fights.
Marc Ratner, the UFC vice president of regulatory affairs stated, “I do not go in anywhere and tell the commission what to do. He’ll get some exposure and I look forward to meeting him.”
While many are quick to point out the short comings of the Illinois State Athletic Commission, it should be noted that the UFC had the faith in them to select the correct candidate(s) for the job.
Madrigal oversaw two preliminary fights on the UFC on Fox card, Chris Camozzi versus Dustin Jacoby and Lavar Johnson versus Joey Beltran. The first fight between Camozzi and Jacoby featured three kicks to the groin all of which Madrigal was not only in the correct position to see, but did exactly what a ref is supposed to do.
At the conclusion of the fight, Camozzi locked in a 10-finger guillotine, a rare modification of the choke hold. Madrigal was at first on one side of the fighters, but quickly moved to where he knew he could see a tap by Jacoby if there was going be one. Sure enough there was and Madrigal was quick to stop the fight.
The other fight Madrigal oversaw featured two heavyweight fighters who in the past have shown they have massive power and knockout ability. It is the referee’s job to know when a fighter is injured or knocked out, but to not interfere with the fight.
At the start of the fight Lavar Johnson hurt Joey Beltran with a big left hook to Beltran’s body. It sent Beltran to the canvas, but Beltran was quick to get up. Madrigal showed poise and precession in his duties as he moved himself into a position to see what would follow.
Through out the fight there were several directional changes and Madrigal again stayed calm and was present through out all the action. If one fighter shifted while against the cage to almost prevent the ref from seeing what was going on, Madrigal would run to the other side to see what was happening.
Even when Johnson was chasing Beltran at one point to follow up on his damaging blows, Madrigal was quick to get out of the way, yet still be in a position to see what was going on.
When it came to the conclusion of the fight, Johnson landed several uppercuts on Beltran knocking him out on his feet. Madrigal was right there and called off the fight the moment that Beltran went unconscious.
All the talk about how Madrigal didn’t have enough experience and that he should “be eased into it” was for naught.
Those that did have a problem with the assignment should not have voiced their opinion prior to the fight, rather they should have waited to see what kind of job Madrigal did. Only if he had made a mistake should there have been an issue.
From the article that was originally written it made it sound as if Madrigal would have let a fighter beat another fighter to death and that he was incompetent at his job. That was clearly not the case, and Madrigal made those who complained about the assignment seem foolish.