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10th Oct 2016

Referee Marc Goddard releases statement after late stoppage at UFC 204 leads to online criticism

"It breaks my heart to think that a fighter had incurred even one shot they shot they shouldn't have."

Darragh Murphy

Refereeing in mixed martial arts is a thankless job.

Referees hardly ever receive praise for doing their jobs correctly but one slip-up will result in the MMA community ripping them apart on social media.

Marc Goddard is one of the finest referees in the sport and that is almost universally agreed upon but he, like every official, is human and is capable of making an error in judgement.

Unfortunately in this sport in which a second can seem like an eternity and an instance of poor positioning or assessment can make all the difference, a mistake often looks terrible.

Goddard was a second late when he stepped in to wave off the welterweight preliminary fight between Mike Perry and Danny Roberts at UFC 204 on Saturday night.

Roberts had clearly gone limp under a Perry right hand in the third round but Goddard, unaware that the British fighter had lost consciousness, allowed him to receive another three clean shots before he jumped in.

It was unanimously agreed that Goddard wasn’t quick enough to call a halt to proceedings and the official took the time to post a reflective statement to Facebook where he acknowledged that he’d change the outcome if he could and would strive to improve.

Here is the statement in full:

“I received a TON of messages last night. Many personal and insulting but I’m a big boy and it goes with the territory. Accepted and expected. But know this, no one alive is more self critical, self analytical and a harsher reviewer of me than me. It’s been a long time since I’ve ever felt so reflective but in an emotional sport my hearts so invested and I make it my business to teach acceptance honesty and humility.

“So its in my life blood to look back – we deal with inches, seconds, heart beats and emotion so high I could never put it into words. In 1000’s upon 1000’s of fights around the globe for more years than most my utmost priority, my heartfelt duty is to protect the fighters whilst never unduly robbing them of the sacrifices they make I’ve been there on both ends. I love this sport more than I could put into words and. Would never shy away from something that, on any other night I’d have done differently. It breaks my heart to think that a fighter had incurred even one shot they shot they shouldn’t have.

“This is such a world of should, could, would. It’s not a game for everyone. It’s unique. The need for improvement, growth and acceptance remains continual – and I’ll never stop giving these fighters what they truly deserve. Last night presented me with an instance that in truth on any other night on Earth I’m acting sooner – and that’s the truth.

“Thank you all.”

To his credit, there are not many referees who would publicly hold their hands up and take full responsibility for a mistake so Goddard ought to at least be applauded for his transparency and willingness to address the issue rather than offer radio silence in the hope that it simply goes away.