The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the state’s governing body that oversees combat sports, is under fire in the wake of apparent gross incompetence by a referee at Fury FC 76 in San Antonio.
The incident happened Friday during a competitive flyweight main event between Dana White’s Contender Series veteran Edgar Chairez and Gianni Vazquez. In the fourth round, Vazquez took down Chairez but quickly found himself trapped in a triangle choke. Chairez managed to lock it in even tighter and the unconscious Vazquez crashed down to the canvas after about 9 seconds.
Vazquez stopped moving, and it was clear to everyone – except apparently referee Frank Collazo – that he was unconscious. The commentary team of UFC welterweight Alex Morono, Michael Alexander, and Raheel Ramzanali began calling the finish, but Collazo didn’t intervene. He watched closely as chaos ensued, with the cageside broadcast team imploring him to stop the fight while Vazquez was still locked in the triangle choke.
“He’s breathing like he’s out. He’s breathing like he’s asleep. Look at his leg,” said one commentator.
Once Chairez (10-4) transitioned to an armbar, it was clear Vazquez (8-5) was out as he laid there motionless, but Collazo still let the fight go on.
“Frank, he’s out! He’s out!” exclaimed Morono.
“Frank! What. Oh my gosh,” Ramzanali yelled. “Frank, it’s done! Frank, it’s done! What are you doing? It’s done!”
It wasn’t until Vazquez finally regained consciousness and tapped out that Collazo stopped the fight.
Ridiculous scene at Fury FC. Edgar Cháirez puts Gianni Vazquez to sleep with a triangle, and the ref simply doesn't stop it. Cháirez ends up armbarring an unconscious Vazquez who wakes up in the submission. #Furyfc76 pic.twitter.com/AgcwI2i3ss
— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) March 25, 2023
‘The only thing these two commission guys deserve is to get fired’
On Saturday, Vazquez’s coach, Colin Oyama, issued a fiery statement condemning Collazo, as well as the TDLR inspector in his corner, whom Oyama said “refused to stop the fight even after he asked him to intervene” and after he threw a bottle into the cage.
Oyama said Vazquez suffered “possible fractures in his elbow joint” after they visited a local hospital.
“This ref needs to lose his job,” Oyama posted on Facebook. “And also the idiot inspector in my corner who refused to stop the fight even after I asked him to intervene and told him that my guy was out. Because of their stupidity of these two, my fighter may have possible fractures in his elbow joint according to the (emergency room) that we went to. It’s always funny how athletic commission are always warning us to act accordingly and show them the respect that they deserve. Respect? The only thing these two commission guys deserve is to get fired.
“I had to watch my kid get his arm snapped off while neither of you did a damn thing. Hell, I even threw a damn water bottle in there to try and stop the fight. Just because you work for the athletic commission doesn’t mean you are above reproach. You both need to be held accountable for your stupidity.”
Fury FC says Collazo failed to protect Vazquez
In statement issued on Facebook, Fury FC expressed disappointment toward Collazo and said he “failed to do” his job properly.
“It is the referee’s job to protect the fighter when the fighter cannot protect him or herself,” the statement read. “In last night’s main event, the referee failed to do this. While the job of a referee is one of the hardest to do in this sport, the need for proper and continued training would help to alleviate things like this incident.”
Fury FC added that it had no role in assigning Collazo.
“We do not hire, train or select refs for our shows, but we would be more than willing to lead a revamp and overhaul of the reffing and judging selection and training process,” Fury FC said in its statement.
It’s unclear how many bouts Collazo officiated on Friday. Prior to Fury FC 76, Collazo officiated nine bouts at Fury FC 73 in January.
In a statement to MMA Junkie, TDLR spokesperson Tela Mange issued a statement that seemingly contradicts Fury FC’s claim that the commission alone chose Collazo to referee its main event.
“TDLR is aware of concerns about the officiating in one of last night’s fights. All TDLR officials receive ongoing training and we monitor each fight for consistency in officiating,” Mange said.
“Fight officials for each competition are always selected in conjunction with promoters.”
It remains to be seen what, if any, punishment could come down on Collazo.
The TDLR will be under the spotlight Saturday night as UFC on ESPN 43 takes place at AT&T Center in San Antonio.
UFC officials confirmed to MMA Junkie that Collazo will not referee any of the bouts but will serve as a judge for Andrea Lee vs. Maycee Barber and Daniel Pineda vs. Tucker Lutz.
MMA Junkie’s Matthew Wells and Nolan King contributed to this report.