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MACAU – After he was involved in a pair of controversial decisions to start the night at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 48 event, judge Howard Hughes was told to take the remainder of the night off by UFC President Dana White.
White confirmed his choice at the evening’s post-fight press conference, which took place at The Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena.
“He was involved in the first fight and the second fight,” White said. “I told the guys to go let him grab some beer and some popcorn and go sit down and start watching some fights, not judging them.”
While White did not identify the judge by name, he was the only official involved in the scoring of both the first and second fights, which saw Milana Dudieva down Elizabeth Phillips and Royston Wee edge Yao Zhikui, both by split decision.
MMAjunkie later confirmed with UFC officials that Hughes was, indeed, the judge told to pack it up early.
Hughes scored the Wee fight 29-28 in the Filipino fighter’s favor, the same way MMAjunkie scored the bout. However, White said he disagreed with that decision and actually elected to pay Zhikui his win bonus.
Meanwhile, Hughes actually scored the Dudieva bout in the Russian fighter’s favor, a result with which White agreed.
“I know a lot of people, the media included and the fans I saw on Twitter, felt that Phillips won the fight, but I thought Milana won the fight, so I disagree,” White said. “But at the end of the day, who gives a s–t what I think. It’s the judges. They pick the winner, and that’s all that matters.”
Despite siding with Hughes on that result, the back-to-back split decisions were enough for White to make a decision, which he later admitted was made while he was “having a pretty bad meltdown.”
Hughes’ name was read by in-cage announcer Andy Friedlander as one of three judges taking part in the scoring of the main event, but MMAjunkie confirmed with UFC officials that Gareth Harriman served in his place instead. Production staff was not informed of the switch, leading to the confusion.
Judges were unanimous on the remaining decision of the night, though referee Thomas Fan did seem a little slow to pull Alberto Mina off of Shinsho Anzai after scoring a first-round TKO with a nasty uppercut and a series of big hammerfists on the floor.
White admitted it wasn’t the best night for the officials but also shouldered the blame, as it was the UFC who appointed the night’s officials since Macau doesn’t have a regulatory body in place.
“It wasn’t great tonight,” White said. “It wasn’t, and it drives me crazy. So, I can sit there and ridicule Nevada, California and all these other places we go, but nobody to point the finger at tonight except for us.” For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 48, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Dana White)