Xtreme Couture's Eric Nicksick blasts Nevada referee as 'that entitled guy'

Xtreme Couture coach Eric Nicksick said he implored referee Mark Smith to deduct a point from Paulo Costa during a fight with his charge, Uriah Hall, at UFC 226.

Instead, Nicksick said, Smith took no action and started an argument.

Costa had already been warned for a low blow when Smith paused the action a second time after a second infraction. Nicksick said Costa also had eyepoked Hall and forcefully reminded Smith of the previous warning.

“Then, when we get into the corner, instead of going over to (Costa’s) corner … he comes over and takes our time away while we’re trying to get our guy to rest, and is saying, ‘You guys need to calm down,’ and ‘I’m the ref,’” Nicksick told MMAjunkie Radio.

Costa (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) wound up winning the fight by second-round TKO after a flurry of punches crumpled Hall (13-9 MMA, 6-7 UFC). But Nicksick hasn’t forgotten about the sequence of events that led to the stoppage, and he faults Smith.

“He’s just always that entitled guy,” Nicksick said. “If you watch that dude ref, he always has to at some point make it about himself in every fight. It doesn’t matter. He has to interject himself somewhere along the line. He’s just that kind of dude.”

Smith, who was trained by veteran referees John McCarthy and Herb Dean and has refereed several major UFC events, did not respond to a request for comment.

The fight undercut Nicksick’s previous impression of Smith. He said the referee was “chummy” outside the cage and asked for permission to train at Xtreme Couture.

“I’m not asking for favors, but if this is the hard line that we’re going to set, it’s … no, you can’t at our gym,” Nicksick said. “You can’t come in, we’re not pals, and you do your (expletive) job.”‘

Nicksick acknowledges MMA referees are in a tough position, trying to regulate often chaotic action inside the cage, and in the case of Hall vs. Costa, also navigating a language barrier with Costa’s native Portuguese.

But the veteran MMA coach believes that above all else, referees should not abuse their power inside the cage. Although mistakes are bound to happen in the cage, ego shouldn’t accompany the officiating of fights.

“These dudes are human,” Nicksick said. “They’re going to make mistakes. But when you consistently make the sport about you, and not the fighters, and not the craft, then dude, you’re just another fan in the cage.”

For complete coverage of UFC 226, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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