The UFC have forced president, Dana White to apologise to judge Howard Hughes after White removed him from the UFC Fight Night Macao event this weekend.
White was displeased with Hughes' judging performances in the first two fights and pulled Hughes aside, telling him that his services wouldn't be required anymore.
Yet it appears that it was White's decision was the poor one as he violated UFC protocol and now has been forced to apologise to Hughes.
Judge, Jury and Executioner
The UFC outlined on their website, White violated the company's protocol in case there's no athletic commission where they're hosting the event - which is the situation in Macau, China.
Instead of acting on his own behalf, White should've left to the UFC's internal regulators according to the post.
"After the second fight of the night, UFC President Dana White requested that Howard Hughes, one of the event's five assigned judges, be removed from working any further bouts. Pursuant to UFC's protocol, neither White nor any other UFC executive possesses such authority. Nevertheless, protocol was breached and Hughes did not work further bouts on Saturday night."
"The UFC has established a protocol when required to self-regulate events due to the lack of an official athletic commission, federation or other regulatory body. In those instances where UFC holds events in locations without a regulatory body, the UFC's protocol dictates that the organization's internal regulators will handle all commission functions independently and without interference by company executives or employees." read the statement.
"Both White and the UFC apologize to Mr. Hughes for calling his professional judgment into question. Hughes has judged more than 25 UFC fight cards and the UFC looks forward to him working on its events again in the future," ended the official response.
Was White in the right?
While the protocol dictates that the decisions about judges should be left for the independent adjudicators, what White did is the right move as dubious judging doesn't have a place in the UFC.
The organisation had to deal with the fallout of Ross Pearson's sensational decision loss to Diego Sanchez, in Sanchez's home commission of New Mexico, for months and fans are often left boggled.
White did admit later on in the night that he was having a 'pretty bad meltdown' before he removed Hughes, and alluded to a possible overreaction, there's precedent in boxing for judge removal.
After a controversial decision in the Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara fight back in 2011, the New Jersey Athletic board suspended all three judges who scored the bout and member, Nick Lembo defended the removal.
"In this instance, would it be better to leave the poor performing official and have them continue to rule on later card bouts that have even greater significance?"
"We owe it to the fighters to put the best qualified judges out there. There are judges that we have never used, or stopped using either temporarily or permanently. A post event analysis is typically made of officiating decisions. You have to continually evaluate your officials." He told MMAMania.com.