By: Matt Marcone
Canadian fighters are climbing the MMA food chain faster than ever before.
Veteran UFC referee “Big Dan” Miragliotta says Ontario’s influence in the sport is becoming far more apparent. The province has only been regulating MMA for 16 months, long enough to notice a radical change.
“I see fighters coming down to New Jersey and a lot of these east coast larger events that are out of Canada, where before you would never hear of these guys,” Miragliotta explains. “The exposure they’re getting is great, Ken Hayashi [the Ontario Athletics Commissioner] is doing an excellent job with the commission there. The guys they have that are working with him know the sport and have learned by doing it.”
Provincial or state athletics commissions sanction all professional MMA bouts. Many have come under fire from fans for failing to provide adequate judges and referees.
Miragliotta, an employee of the commissions says many people have no idea how difficult MMA regulation is and sees little room for development.
“Honestly they’re doing a great job, I wouldn’t even say they have to improve,” says Miragliotta about the Ontario Athletics Commission. “I like what they’re doing. They’re bringing people in that know it [MMA], that have been around for a long time and are used enough to help people who are there to learn and become more proficient.”
Miragliotta has officiated some of the biggest fights in the sport but often enjoys local bouts just as much as main event headliners.
“It’s like college football,” says Miragliotta. “I enjoy watching college football more than pros because these are young guys that are trying to get to that level and are giving you 100% all the time. They’re really trying their hardest because they want to get to where these other guys are; making the big bucks, making the recognition, getting endorsements, commercials…”
Miragliotta also gave his thoughts about the likelihood of Paul Daley returning to the octagon. UFC President Dana White fired him for striking Josh Koscheck well after the final bell at UFC 113 in Montreal.
“Had he maybe said to Dana that he was frustrated, he was upset and that he screwed up, I think Dana would’ve suspended him and maybe fined him and that would’ve been it,” says Miragliotta. “But him telling Dana that he didn’t hear the bell, that he didn’t care, that’s what got him fired. It was a very bad mistake on his part.”
White has repeatedly said Daley will never return to the UFC because of the incident but has used similar rhetoric with fighters like Tito Ortiz, Nate Marquardt and Karo Parisyan, only to change his mind later.
“I think Dana’s like everyone else, you forgive and forget a little bit, as long as the circumstances are right,” says Miragliotta. “I don’t see why he wouldn’t. If they picked him up, that would be great but if they didn’t it would be a sad thing because Daley’s a good fighter. I mean you go to jail for murder and you get out in 20 years on probation, just for sucker punching somebody to be fired for life is a major penalty, but that’s up to him [Dana].”
Miragliotta says he is happy to be a part of the growth of MMA by being a referee but eventually plans to retire and train fighters.
You can listen to the entire interview on episode three of the MMAxposed podcast. He talks about life on the road away from his family, unified rules and standups.