During UFC Fight Night 48 in Macao, UFC President Dana White was in attendance and removed judge Howard Hughes following the conclusion of the first two bouts of the evening. As a result of the judging by Hughes, White deemed him unfit to judge MMA and relived him of his duties.
As the UFC commissions overseas events in China, White thought it was within his authority to remove the judge midway through the event, announcing that he had done so at the post-fight press conference. However this was not the case.
The UFC has since released a statement Tuesday, after an internal review they found that by removing the judge Saturday, the UFC had breached its own independent regulatory protocol.
The full statement released by the UFC follows:
After an internal review, the UFC organization announced today that a breach of its independent regulatory protocol occurred on Saturday night during UFC FIGHT NIGHT MACAO.
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 organization has always been in support of government regulation and oversight. Additionally, 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.
The UFC remains committed to maintaining the strictest regulatory environment for competition and vows that no similar breach of protocol will happen again.
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.