Monday, November 19, 2007
With some solid calls and a ton of cage presence, Dan Miragliotta made his first appearance in the Octagon this weekend, flexing his muscle as one of the most experienced referees in the business. Who is Dan Miragliotta? Standing close to seven feet tall and weighing over 350 pounds, New Jersey-native Miragliotta used to promote the old BAMA FightNight shows, and he gained notoriety as a ref when he officiated a match between a charging rhinocerous and a rampaging elephant at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange (the elephant won a split decision). Since that infamous bout, he's gone on to oversee hundreds and hundreds of matches - and it shows. On Saturday night there were no bad restarts, no quick stoppages, and no deaths. Miragliotta knows his job. And he knows it well.
On paper, it promised to be lackluster at best. In reality, it was a crapfest. UFC 78 came to Newark this Saturday with no notable marquee bout in Michael Bisping versus Rashad Evans, a sad co-main event in Thiago Silva versus Houston Alexander, and a card full of fighters that obviously had contracted bouts that needed to be fulfilled. The only high points of the night - Frankie Edgar's trouncing of the tough Spencer Fisher and Joe Lauzon's destruction of a tomato can - were overshadowed by the cold realization that, yes, Zuffa hates the East Coast. What have we done to deserve this? And does the UFC brass not understand that half-hearted shows like this, while generating profits in the short-term, also serve to generate ill-will? The UFC brand is strong, but not that strong, and a substandard product like UFC 78 only helps to give rise to a different approach to promoting fights: the boxing business model.