I promise this will be the last post on this fight as everything seems to be cleared up with this interview. It is from an interview done by mmajunkie.com
In case you want to read all of it, here is a link to the full interview. Here are some of the key points from it:
MMAJUNKIE.COM: OK, onto the fight. When we spoke earlier, you mentioned that the decision to deduct Lesnar one point for strikes to the back of Mir’s head was pretty clear. Can you explain?
STEVE MAZZAGATTI: These fighters are extremely skilled fighters, and a grappler like Frank, that’s what they’re trained to do: when you have a guy in half guard on top of you, you don’t want to give the guy room to punch. So that was Mir’s defense. You suck up close to (your opponent’s) chest, tuck yourself up under them, and that covers you from getting hit. At first, Brock started to do the right thing by winding up with the hook from behind and pushing Mir’s head away from his stomach. Then you can blast him in the face… but to have to worry about getting struck in the back in the head in a situation like that isn’t something Frank should have had to worry about. But that was a target that presented itself to Brock.
MMAJUNKIE.COM: Just to be clear, did you think the strikes were intentional?
STEVE MAZZAGATTI: I don’t think it was through any fault of his own. It was just there for him, so he started coming down with that hammerfist. But the back of the head is not a target you can take. And honestly, we see it all the time. A lot of people are comparing it to that the Tibau Gleison-Tyson Griffin fight earlier in the night. They were doing the exact same thing. Gleison took down Tyson, Tyson scooted up toward Gleison, and he had the opportunity to hit him (in the back of the head) but didn’t take it. Instead, he moved his head out so he could get in some punches, which is what you’re supposed to do.
MMAJUNKIE.COM: Did you issue Lesnar a warning? That’s a big part of this whole thing, you know? Some fans think you didn’t issue a warning.
STEVE MAZZAGATTI: Yeah, I did. Brock’s excited. It’s a big, big opportunity for him, and — in my opinion — he looked down and saw the head there, and he took three shots at him and caught him. I jump in and say, “Don’t hit at the back of the head.” A few more seconds go by, Mir tucks up under there again, and Brock comes down with the second couple hits to the back of the head. That’s when I jumped in and had to do my job. That’s what I saw.
MMAJUNKIE.COM: So, just to be perfectly clear, you did issue Lesner a warning before you stopped the fight and deducted a point?
STEVE MAZZAGATTI: Oh yeah, I did. But can you imagine the decibels in there? That was one of the fights everyone came to see. Of course, I came home and did my homework, watched the tape, and I can’t hear myself give the warning. I couldn’t hear myself say, “Bring it on!” on that beginning (either). [laughs] That’s my thing. I always shout that. If you watch the tape, you can barely even hear that.
MMAJUNKIE.COM: Do you think Lesnar heard you?
STEVE MAZZAGATTI: I don’t know. I can’t say that he heard it. I yelled it loud enough for them to hear. It was awfully loud. I yelled it, though. I’ve got kids, so I know how to yell. [laughs] I used to be in a rock band, so I’ve got some lungs.
MMAJUNKIE.COM: I think that’s where the controversy is — if there is, indeed, any controversy — that some people think you never issued a warning. But you’re saying it’s just a matter of people not hearing it, correct?
STEVE MAZZAGATTI: Absolutely, yeah. Let me also say that striking to the back of the head is one of my pet peeves — that and grabbing the cage. The back of the head is a very dangerous spot of the body in this sport. If you were to put a RAZR cellphone right above your C-spine where it connects to your skull, that’s the most dangerous part of the skull. A good, strong hit there can really hurt a fighter. That’s the part of the head that is considered illegal. Right behind the ears is not illegal. Sometimes we caution people not to hit there. That’s not necessarily a warning… we just know the possibility is there. Like I said, I’m just there to look for illegal techniques. And if you go back through my history, you’ll see that I’ve deducted a lot of points for strikes to the back of the head.
MMAJUNKIE.COM: Obviously, it can be easy to accidentally hit someone in the back of the head unintentionally if an opponent if flailing around. Where do you draw the line?
STEVE MAZZAGATTI: Accidental strikes happen. But when you look at the back of the guy’s head and connect, it’s, “OK, that might be cool. He didn’t mean it.” Then you hit twice, and it’s time to start considering if you’re doing it intentionally. Then the third one comes down, and that’s when I jump in and say, “No strikes to the back of the head!” as loudly as I possibly can. Brock knows what he did. He has nothing to say about it being controversial. I don’t think his corner protested at all about it. It’s all left to interpretation. But was a foul committed? Yes, it was… If you look at the fight several times, unfortunately, the majority of the powerful shots were to the back of the head.
While some may disagree with his call, I give him credit for coming out and saying why he did what he did and why he thought it was necessary. I’d be interested to see if there was another camera angle for the fight and if the shots to the back of the head could be seen more clearly from another angle.