Saturday 18 February 2012 at the HMV Forum in London, Cage Warriors 45 showed some of the finest fights seen in the UK this season. From start to finish the athletes delivered and entertained the audience and this, together with good organization, sportsmanship spirit and great venue, could have made Cage Warriors 45 one of the most successful events this year.
There has however been the big spoiler…
Referee Neil Hall has been said to having made a few dubious calls throughout the night; standing up fighters when they were actively working on the mat, stopping fights too early and for overall poor refereeing. The straw that broke the camel’s back however was when Hall called a stop to the contest between Jack “The Stone” Mason and Chris “The Killing” Fields after 50 seconds from the start. The two athletes started the match slowly, sizing up each other for a while. It was then Fields to start the offense with a leg kick which Mason countered with a straight punch to the face.
The fight was beginning to unfold nicely when Fields caught Mason with a good left kick to the face that dropped “The Stone”. The kick was clean and did catch the MW contender but it was far from a being a KO kick; in fact, when Fields jumped on a downed Mason to finish the fight, Mason was not only protecting himself well, but was also scrambling to get up and was already on all fours when the referee stepped in. At that point, pretty much the whole arena, including many of the officials, left a out a moan of disappointment and surprise. UFC signed John “The One” Maguire, Tommy “2 Gunz” Maguire and Luke “Big Slow” Barnatt, who were in Mason’s corner, were rightly shocked. Chris Fields himself reacted with surprise and, when you will watch the fight, you will probably understand why. Jack Mason was obviously disappointed especially because Mason is the kind of athlete which would have performed even better after the tagging kick.
So, whilst we obviously feel sorry for Jack Mason and anybody who has been in the same position, these things happen frequently and once the call is made, there simply is nothing that can be done. So what needs to be done in order to avoid that such bad calls compromise athlete’s records and sometimes end their career? The answer is twofold.
1. The Rules
The rules must change in order for things to improve. I am a sports mind coach and not an MMA official and so I am not sure whether making the stoppages more structured or perhaps use playback checks can be the solution. What I know is, and I think that I speak for many, the rules must change.
2. The Victim
What I do know is that the “Victim”, the athlete who suffers the consequences of the referee’s bad call, must do two things in order to come unstuck:
1. Appeal if you can
If the promotion allows it (and all promotions should) appeal! The main reasons here are two: clean your record from an unfair mark and, for a more collective purpose, the more appeals a promotion gets, the more careful they will become when hiring referees.
2. “Erase” the event
Once you have appealed or decided that you will not appeal, then it is time to forget about it. If you have lost because of a bad ref’s call, there is no point in analysing the fight and blaming yourself for the things that you have not done. Simply imagine that you could go back in time and erase that from your memory and I know that this is not possible in real neurological terms but what I do know is that the less you think about something and the less the mind will focus on it; the less the mind focuses on it and the less importance it will give to the whole event which means that you can continue your journey of becoming the champion that you know you can be.
So how do you do that? How do you “erase” the event? Find another goal, another fight, another tournament, another challenge and focus heart and mind on it. Start a new training camp and go from there. If your body needs to recover before you can go back in full training, take a vacation if you can or make the recovery become your next challenge. There are several tools that can be used which are too long to explain here but if you find yourself stuck, get in touch and I will be happy to help.
Many think that the kick that downed Mason would have in fact made “The Stone” harder and gotten him into the match even more; many think that Mason would have won that fight and I am one of them. This is however beside the point, what is important is that talented athletes like Jack and many others have the right to be protected by the promotions from bad calls such as the one made by Hall and, if they ever fall victims of these bad calls, they need to know that they can, and must, “erase” the event from their mind. With all that in mind, I do realise that being a referee is not always easy and taking the blame is sometimes part of the job.